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Don Ryan, Associated Press
Louisville guard Kyle Kuric speaks at a news conference in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 16, 2012. Louisville plays New Mexico on Saturday in Portland in their NCAA tournament third-round game.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Rick Pitino says there really wasn't a defining moment that propelled Louisville through the Big East tournament and into the third-round of the NCAAs.

The Cardinals (27-9) have won five straight going into Saturday's game against New Mexico, with a chance to advance to the regional semifinal for the first time since 2009.

It's been an up and down year for Louisville, which rose to No. 4 in the rankings in December before tumbling with five losses in seven games. The Cardinals lost three of four heading into the conference tournament.

But it appeared that something clicked when Louisville then won four straight games in four straight nights, capped by a 50-44 victory over Cincinnati in the league championship game.