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“We needed a rally and we’ve been doing it for a couple of games straight, being down,” Hancock said. “We just had to wait and make our run.”

Michigan pulled within 54-52 with 12:07 to play on a deep, deep 3 by AP Player of the Year Trey Burke, who sat most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. But then, Siva and Behanan simply took over. The Cardinals had three players with three fouls _ Hancock and Siva, included _ and fears about their shortened rotation had made them cautious in Saturday night’s national semifinal. This time, however, it seemed to fire them up.

The 6-foot Siva looked about 6 inches taller as he scooped up a rebound took it all the way in for a layup, the first of three straight baskets. Behanan seemed to be everywhere under the basket, grabbing one rebound after another. Louisville outrebounded 32-27, including 20-10 in the second half.

“He said he was going to take care of the boards, that’s what he did,” Hancock said of Behanan. “He stepped up and was a leader.

Gorgui Dieng may have had a quiet night offensively _ he had eight points _ but he knocked down a short jumper to extend the lead to 65-61. Siva then scored on a backdoor dunk to make it 67-62 with 6:25 left, and the game was all but over.

“We beat a great basketball team probably because I have the 13 toughest guys I have ever coached,” said Pitino, who became the first coach to win titles with two schools hours after he was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame.

And the closest ones, too.

“It’s just been an incredible run,” Pitino said, “with just the most wonderful young men I’ve had the pleasure to be around. I’m so proud of them.”