8 – A Number One Goes down in front of 5th largest crowd….
After struggling in the early part of the season in 2009 the Cardinals got on a roll winning 4 straight including the big win a few weeks earlier over in state rival UK. But they still had some work to do to prove that their lofty preseason ranking of #3 in the country was not a misprint. The Cards would have their chance to do just that on January 17, 2009 in front of 20,082 fans when Big East rival Pitt visited the Hall. The Panthers had gotten to the #1 spot in the polls for the first time in the school’s history after a 16-0 start to their season.
The game started in favor of the #1 Panthers as they were living up to their ranking and held control of the game for most of the first and second half. With 8:48 left in the game they seen their lead evaporate. Big shots by Earl Clark, T-Will, and Preston Knowles pulled the Cardinals within one. Then a monster dunk by Samardo Samuels tied the game at 58 all. The Cards would eventually take the lead for good and win the game 69- 63 as the Panthers had no answer for the pressure defense. They would have a season high 20 turnovers for the game.
The rivalry with Pitt has become one of the most compelling in the Big East since joining the conference. And it was great watching the Cardinals beat them and Knock them off their lofty perch. That alone would have made this a pick for a top 10 moment in the last 5 years but the fact that this was the first win over a #1 team since 2003 made it a lock for number 8 in my countdown.