Riding an airtight defense for the fourth consecutive day, the Cardinals held off a late flurry by the Bearcats to win their second Big East tournament crown with a 50-44 victory on Saturday.
The seventh-seeded Cardinals (26-9) saw a 16-point cushion whittled to four, 48-44, over the final eight and a half minutes, but Cincinnati's Jaquon Parker missed a pair of foul shots with 30 seconds left to effectively kill the comeback bid.
The fourth-seeded Bearcats (24-10) hurt themselves at the line all night, making 1 of 7 attempts while Louisville was 11 for 12.
Louisville trailed briefly in the early going, 6-5, before taking the lead for good with a 9-0 run midway through the first half.
The Cardinals held Cincinnati to 25 percent shooting in the first half to take a 24-14 edge into the break. Another 10-0 burst in the second half made it 44-28 with 8:31 before the Bearcats began their final push.
Chris Smith hit 3 of 6 3-pointers and scored 15 points for Louisville, which emerged victorious despite shooting only 35.4 percent (17 for 48) from the floor.
Cashmere Wright led Cincinnati with 16 points.