The KFC Yum! Center will host its first marquee ACC showdown on Saturday when Louisville plays host to Duke at noon. So, letâ€™s take a quick look at the Yum! Centerâ€™s five greatest hits up to this point.
5. Louisville 62, Vanderbilt 60 (OT) (Dec. 2, 2011)
It was the first big challenge of the season for an unbeaten Louisville team ranked in the top 10, and a late Friday night tip-off resulted in one of the most charged up crowds in the arena’s brief history.
Peyton split a pair of defenders and drove through the lane to hit a lay-up with just seconds left to lift UofL past the Commodores in overtime, 62-60. Chane Behanan had a chance to win the game in regulation, but his short jumper found nothing but iron.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a five-point lead to open the extra frame in what was a sluggish start to overtime for both teams. With a minute and a half to go, the Commodores held a four-point advantage, only to see Louisville rattle off five unanswered points to take the lead, setting up Siva’s heroics.
4. Louisville 62, Pittsburgh 59 (OT) (Feb. 27, 2011)
he Yum Center’s debut season is likely still its most exciting to date, with the Cards seemingly playing a down-to-the wire thriller every other weekend. This particular contest will forever be remembered as “The Cheerleader Game.”
Kyle Kuric slammed home a dunk in the closing seconds of overtime that appeared to shut the door on a victory over No. 4 Pittsburgh. Then things got weird.
Apparently believing the game was over, a UofL male cheerleader came onto the floor and grabbed the ball that Kuric had just dunked and tossed it into the air. The Cardinals were called for a technical foul, and the Panthers converted the free-throws, but couldn’t get off a shot in the final second.
Rick Pitino made light of the event after the game, and even made it a point to talk to the cheerleader and tell him everything was fine. Cardinal star Preston Knowles, however, was less forgiving.
“Honestly, I’m still mad about that because that could have cost us the game,” Knowles said. “I have to say â€˜No commentâ€™.”
3. Louisville 70, Kentucky 67 (Dec. 29, 2012)
There has to be a spot on this list for Louisville’s lone victory over Kentucky since the arrival of John Calipari. It didn’t come easily, as the Cards had to withstand a furious late rally from the Wildcats, and do so while three players on the floor who had four fouls. Chane Behanan put things away, for good, with a steal and a game-clinching dunk with 18 seconds to play. He then blew a goodbye kiss to the crowd.
2. Syracuse 70, Louisville 68 (Jan. 19, 2013)
They haven’t all been wins, and Louisville’s most eventful home game from its national championship season of 2012-13 was actually a loss to a Syracuse squad that also wound up making it to the Final Four. The Cardinals had a chance to win this back-and-forth showdown of top six teams, but Michael Carter-Williams’ steal and dunk with 23 seconds to play put the Orange ahead, for good. Peyton Siva’s attempted pass to Gorgui Dieng in the closing seconds was fumbled, and UofL was unable to attempt a potential game-tying shot.
The loss was the second straight for Louisville, which had started the week with its first ever regular season No. 1 ranking. The Cards would lose again in their next game against Villanova, before beginning a tear that would end with the program’s third national title.
1. Louisville 71, Marquette 70 (Jan. 15, 2011)
Just three months into its existence, the Yum! Center gained its first, and still most memorable, signature moment when Louisville pulled off what quickly became known as “The Miracle on Main.”
Marquette dominated the game for significant stretches, and led by 18 points with just 5:36 to play. But the Golden Eagles unraveled during the game’s final five minutes, making just two field goals during that span and throwing away several chances to secure a key victory over the 17th-ranked Cardinals.
Preston Knowles took advantage. The senior captain hit four extremely difficult 3-pointers, in rapid succession, to bring UofL to within one. Then, with the defense focused solely on him, Knowles found a wide-open Kyle Kuric for the game-winning lay-up.
“That’s one of the top-five comebacks,” Rick Pitino said after the game. “They outplayed us for the first 34 minutes. I’m really proud of these guys. I’m shaking. It happened so fast.”
Here’s hoping for a game worthy of inclusion on this list Saturday.