PHOENIX – Hated to do that to ya, kid.

Rick Pitino nearly came unhinged and his point guard watched the end of the game from the bench. But when it was over, it was Pitino and Louisville making plans for the Final Four and his protege, Billy Donovan, and Florida wondering what happened.

Freshman Chane Behanan made the go-ahead basket with 1:06 left Saturday and the fourth-seeded Cardinals finished on a 23-8 run for a 72-68 victory over Donovan’s stunned Florida team in the West Regional final.

Russ Smith, who finished with 19 points, followed Behanan’s bucket with a pair of free throws, then Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton each missed chances to tie for Florida in the final seconds.

Louisville made one more free throw to reach its ninth Final Four, the second under Pitino, despite playing the final 3:58 without point guard Peyton Siva, who fouled out.

“What happens is you can’t lose confidence,” Pitino said. “I kept telling the guys, ‘We’re going to the Final Four. Win the Big East tournament, you’re going to the Final Four,’ and they did.”

The Big East tournament champions are on an eight-game winning streak, with a trip to New Orleans on the itinerary and a possible matchup with Pitino’s old school, Kentucky, which will have to get by Baylor today to set up a grudge match to end them all.

This game had a much more warm-and-fuzzy story line: Pitino, the young coach who saw something special in Donovan, the undersized guard, and developed a partnership that took Providence on an unexpected trip to the 1987 Final Four. Pitino also gave Donovan his first coaching job, and both men conceded theirs was more of a father-son relationship than anything else.

“I’m so proud of Billy Donovan, the way he coached this team,” Pitino said. “He was brilliant. He took us out of the zone. But only one team could play aggressive and come back like this.”

Seventh-seeded Florida (26-11) went out in the regional final for the second straight year, with Donovan falling to 0-7 lifetime against the man who hired him as an assistant at Kentucky and felt as proud as a papa when he watched Donovan win his two national titles in 2006 and ’07.

But make no mistake. This was no heartwarmer.

Donovan got under Pitino’s skin early in the second half during a timeout by working the officials, who called a foul against the Cardinals (30-9) when play resumed.

“He called that,” Pitino shouted. “Why don’t you just give him a whistle?”

Pitino couldn’t get a break for a while after that and when Siva picked up his fourth foul, the coach stomped onto the court and got hit with a technical. Erving Walker made four straight free throws and the Gators led by 11.

But the team that went 8 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half went cold, not hitting any of nine attempts from beyond the arc in the second.

The Gators missed seven shots and committed one turnover over the last 2:30. They didn’t score after Boynton’s layup gave them a 68-66 lead with 2:39 left.

The game’s best freshman? That was Behanan, who was far less heralded than Beal coming out of high school, but outplayed him down the stretch when the trip to New Orleans was on the line.

Behanan scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, including nine over the last 8:02 and Louisville’s last two field goals — both after Siva fouled out with nine points.