The game was actually close for much of the first half, but the Cards couldn’t keep up with the high-flying Cats, who took a commanding 41-27 lead going into halftime.
A strong second half helped put the Cards away early, as UK led by as many as 32 points and cruised to one of the biggest margins of victory in the history of this rivalry.
Here are four things to know from the 90-61 victory:
Strong ending to the first half.
The Cats dominated the first half. With about 10 min left, they took off, finishing the half on a 25-8 run. The Cats owned Louisville in every aspect of the game, allowing them to amass a 14 point lead going into the half.
It looked like the experience of both teams switched. Louisville couldn’t handle the crowd as the lead grew larger and larger, and they couldn’t finish a shot to save their lives. The Cards ended that half shooting 1-12 and it put them in a huge hole.
It was easily one of the most complete halves of basketball we’ve seen from the Cats, and it was arguably the best first half we’ve seen all season. That really broke Louisville’s spirit and made this a no-contest in the second half.
Kentucky played great...without Kevin Knox.
From beginning to end, this is the best we’ve seen these guys play. They were aggressive throughout, dominated Louisville in every way, and controlled the tempo for the entire game.
With that being said, they managed to do all of this without their star freshman Kevin Knox. He had eight points on 2-8 shooting and 0-3 from three. We’ve definitely seen better days from Kevin, but it’s great to see the team excel without Knox playing well.
UK ended up having four double-digit scorers, and none of them were Knox, who was actually tied with Sacha Killeya-Jones as UK’s fifth-leading scorer.
This proves that they don’t need to rely on any one player, they can do it as a team on any given night.
Quade bounces back
Remember when Quade Green promised a win over Louisville?
After his dud against UCLA, he made sure to rebound in a big way while fulfilling his promise. in a highly-anticipated matchup with Louisville star point guard Quintin Snider, Green won the contest going away.
Not only did Green run the offense very efficiently (game-high 5 assists) while scoring 13 points, but he was a pest on defense and kept Snider from ever finding his rhythm.
Green effectively put the game out of reach early in the second half when he scored or assisted on nine-straight points. That was a key stretch in this game that made sure the Cards had no shot of making a comeback, even though Green wasn’t the best point guard on this day...
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his breakout game.
Shai finally had the game that we all knew he was capable of. He finished with 24 points on 9-15 shooting and dominated the Louisville defense. Seeing Shai play like this should get all of BBN fired up, he’s a great player who works extremely hard and he’s earned every minute of his playing time this year.
It has to be said that Shai and Quade played most of the game together. This is huge for Kentucky. If they can continue to play like this together, this team is going to be a handful for their opponents. Look for Shai to continue getting big minutes in the upcoming games after his stellar performance today.
Now, let’s celebrate the win!