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#8 UK Hoops Hosts Louisville - Preview and Gamethread

The Battle for the Bluegrass is here as the Cats take on those Dirty Birds tonight at Rupp Arena. Will Janee Thompson make it a perfect four for four in her ownership of the Cards?

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Note: if you are anywhere near Lexington please help PACK THE HOUSE tonight and cheer the Cats onto victory live and in person. (You can get a seat in the lower bowl for $9!!!) If not, join us here at ASoB to witness what we hope will be the 6th straight win for Matthew Mitchell over the Cards.

After their come from behind victory last week over a very fired up NKU squad (and crowd) on the road, the Cats have cracked the Top 10 rankings. Led by Janee Thompson's 21 points, the Cats stormed back from a four point first half deficit to win 84-65. Janee has now scored in double digits for six straight games, and I think it's safe to say any concerns she may have had about her recovery are quickly diminishing. Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator also scored in double figures. It wasn't the prettiest of games - the Cats only hit five three-pointers to the Norse's 11 - but when you hit 55% from the field and to the opposition's 39% I guess you can't complain. It was a terrific road win against a strong team in a hostile environment that will serve the Cats well both in prepping for tonight and conference play.

So just what should we hope to see tonight? Expect there to be a lot of attention on Janee Thompson. For the last three years, Janee has provided the spark that helped her team get the W over the Cards, bringing the Cats rally from a double-digit deficit to a Wildcat victory.

Also, look for a really fast paced and emotionally charged game. The Cats only had 13 turnovers against NKU - tonight they'll likely be north of 25. Jeff Walz's teams play very aggressive defense - must be something in the water in Jefferson County - and the Cats have traditionally taken 20 minutes to figure out how to break through. One major difference with this year's club is how much more effective Kentucky's offense has been thus far, with the Cats hitting 49% from the field vs. previous years in the low 40's. (Last year the Cats were at 39.9%, so we'll round that to 40%)  Kentucky also has brought more height to the game this year which has helped increase their overall rebounding by 8% so far this season. (67% of Kentucky's current players are six feet or taller, while the Cards line up is made of 50% similarly sized trees.) The Schimel sisters have finally departed from Louisville, but you should still seem some familiar faces in the opposition's lineup. Mariya Moore is currently the Cards' leading scorer, averaging 15.4 points per game to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Brihanna Jackson is hot on Mariya's heels with 13.4 points per game and a very effective free-throw style has her hitting a blistering 88%.

All in all, tonight's matchup should be another intense addition to the 52 year rivalry. You can catch all the action at 7 PM Eastern. The game is televised (hooray!) on the SEC Network, and of course you can listen it to hear Neil Price calling all the action on 630 WLAP. However you chose to watch, this truly is must-see TV!

Until 7 PM EST tonight, Cat fans - GO BIG BLUE!