Facing fourth-ranked Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, Louisville looked destined for its third loss in a row.
But the Cardinals' underdog role did them more good than harm Saturday night as they handed KU it's first loss of the season and ended its 24-game home winning streak, 85-78.
"The beauty of it was there was no downside for us coming in here," Louisville coach Denny Crum said. "Everybody came in here loose and relaxed."
Relegated to the past were last week's losses at home to Tulane and at Virginia Commonwealth.
"They were a little bit down after the VCU game," Crum said, "but we told them, `You can't change that one. It's gone.' We've got nothing to lose Saturday."
And that was exactly how they approached it, starting with a 2 -hour practice on Friday, which Crum said was ``unheard of for us the day before a game."
THEY STRENGTHENED their resolve in front of the TV on Saturday afternoon watching eighth-ranked North Carolina lose to Notre Dame, 88-76.
"We were the underdogs. We knew that," guard Keith LeGree said. "In the hotel room today we saw everybody getting knocked off. The team that beat North Carolina had nothing to lose, and we didn't, either."
So out came Louisville, 8-3, to shoot 52 percent from the field, including 60 percent in the second half, outrebound Kansas 40-30 and bother the Jayhawks with its own sticky man-to-man defense.
"That was the best we've played this year at both ends," Crum said. "For us to win, especially on the road against a team like this, everybody had to contribute."
Kansas, which trailed by four at halftime, overtook the Cards two minutes into the second half. But the Jayhawks built only a five-point lead, which quickly evaporated.
"I thought a key point in the game was when we didn't crack at the beginning of the second half," Crum said.
PART OF the reason was torrid Dwayne Morton, a 6-6 sophomore forward whose eight-for-10 shooting earned him game-high honors with 20 points.
"The forwards they had on me, I knew they couldn't stop me," Morton said. "Tonight I had that feeling. I felt it was going to be a big night. As soon as I woke up I was like, `Yeah, I'm ready.'"
So was LeGree. Louisville cruised through Kansas' pressure defense with a minimum of trouble, and Crum credited his freshman point guard.
"Keith is primarily responsible for that," the coach said. "We don't have anybody else who handles the ball like he does. That's why he's starting even though he's only a freshman. He was the unsung hero tonight."
LeGree credited his coach and Friday's unusually long workout.
"They and Kentucky were the most pressure we've seen this year," he said. "But coach was emphasizing that in practice. We worked on dealing with that and getting into our offense."