Well, that hurt. Louisville topped Kentucky 73-70 in Kentucky’s second consecutive game for the ages. Unfortunately, this one ended in a loss. This was an ugly one; Louisville defended well (as expected) and kept Kentucky from running up and down the floor all night. Combine that with absolutely atrocious Kentucky shooting and the fact that this was the first true road game for a very young Kentucky team, and it was a perfect storm for Louisville to pull off this upset.
Louisville wasn’t ready for the pace (at first)
Rick Pitino said he wanted his guys to be able to run with Kentucky, but early on they were not ready for that. Several times in the first half, Louisville would make a jumper only to give up a layup or dunk in transition. It was so bad that at one point, Bam Adebayo beat Louisville’s guards up the floor to score uncontested. Louisville eventually started getting back, and they were able to slow the pace because of it, but they hurt themselves early on.
As the game went on, Louisville took more and more control of the pace. In the end, they held Kentucky to just 70 points, which is astonishingly low for this team.
Kentucky played OK without Monk (and Monk played poorly)
Malik Monk was expected to be tonight’s impact player. After scoring 47 points, obviously he’d be expected to be a major key against the best defensive team in the country. However, after getting charged with two quick fouls in the first half, Monk found himself on the bench for about 10 minutes. And Kentucky, despite an ugly performance, managed to hang with Louisville. They led the Cards 40-39 going into the half, with very little production coming from Monk, who didn’t hit any threes in the first half. In the end, Monk had just one three-pointer the entire game. He attempted to shoot his way out of his funk the entire second half, to the point where he was hurting the team. His only three came late to cut the lead to one, but he couldn’t make a second to send the game to overtime.
Losing to a top-10 team on the road isn’t a nightmare scenario
Yeah, it sucks that said top 10 team is Louisville, but a lot went wrong in this game. And I mean A LOT. Monk only had one three-pointer, Quentin Snider had the game of his life, Kentucky shot under 40% from the field (and under 23% from deep), they lost the rebound battle, they played the best defense in the country, and they still only lost by three points. It hurts, but the sun will come up tomorrow. This team played young (because they are young), and if we see another installment of this rivalry in March, Kentucky will look a lot more like a veteran team.