There is nothing like the feeling of a rivalry game against the Cards, and it is even better when the Cats put on a performance like that and come away with a big win on the heels of their big win over UNC.
Right from the tip, Kentucky wasn’t fazed by the road environment and took an early 11-8 lead into the first media timeout.
The teams went back and forth as Kentucky had a 16-15 lead with just under 12 to play in the half.
Then came the Cats!
Kentucky went on a 15-2 run to make it 31-17 but then one of the worst offensive foul calls I have ever seen turned the momentum drastically and Louisville cut the lead to 33-25.
Unfortunately, a bad shot with 9 seconds left led to a breakaway dunk by the Cards as the Cats took a 35-27 lead into halftime.
Overall, the first half was a good performance by the Cats but foul trouble on Ashton Hagans hurt the Cats defensively and allowed Louisville to stick around.
After the break, Kentucky continued to play at a high level and controlled the game until the final buzzer.
Louisville started the half with a basket to cut the lead to 6, but Kentucky responded and built up a 10-point lead by the under 16 timeout.
As the game started to come to an end, Ashton Hagans continued to show why he is one of the best defenders in the country, and he showed his ability to get to the rim and finish as he was a huge factor in closing this one out.
Kentucky had a 61-48 lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game and a Keldon Johnson dunk with 17 seconds to play put the finishing touch on this one as the Cats roll over the Cards 71-58.
Thoughts on the game
Ashton Hagans, my goodness
Hagans dominated the North Carolina game on the defensive end of the floor. However, in this one, he was doing it on both ends of the floor.
His defense continued to impress, as he had 3 steals and played very good defense on the Louisville guards (most of their guards’ points came with Hagans on the bench).
Offensively, Hagans is starting to put it together as he had 11 points and 3 assists. 11 points for Hagans feels like he had 20 with the way that points from him can completely change the outlook of a game and this team.
Tyler Herro finally shot the ball well
It is no secret that Herro has been scoring a lot of points basically all season. However, it is also not a secret that his shooting percentage has been bad to this point.
In this one he finally looked comfortable with his shot and it showed as he had a career high 24 points on 10/13 shooting. With that he also had 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
This is the Tyler Herro that we saw in the Bahamas and exactly what we were waiting to see this season. Him shooting the ball like this completely changes this team.
PJ Washington doing the dirty work
We all know that PJ has the ability to score, but scoring from him isn’t always a must, so he must find other ways to impact the game.
That is exactly what he did in this one.
He only scored 5 points, but he had 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and a steal. That is making an impact in other ways besides scoring and exactly what this teams needs from PJ every night and some nights they will need him to score as well.
This defense is fun to watch
After the way the season started defensively for this team, I doubt anyone saw this big of an improvement coming.
Kentucky held UNC to 72 points last week and UNC was averaging 90 a game. In this one they held Louisville to 58 points and it sure was fun to watch the defensive rotations throughout the game.
If this team continues to defend like this and improve on that end of the floor, then they will be a very tough team to beat.
Next week, the Cats will make another road trip as they travel to face Alabama to get SEC play started. That game will tip-off at 1:00 PM on ESPN.
It’s been quite the year for Kentucky’s football and basketball teams. It started with the 90-61 win over the Cardinals. Then came the 56-10 destruction at Cardinal Stadium by Terry Wilson and the football Cats.
Then came this manhandling of the Cards in the YUM! Center. All of this made for a rare year of domination for the Cats over their rival:
This is the 2nd time that UK has beaten UofL on the road in both men's basketball and football in the same season (2010-2011)— Corey Price (@coreyp08) December 29, 2018
UK has consecutive wins against UofL by at least 13 points for the first time since 12/23/1995 and 12/31/1996— Corey Price (@coreyp08) December 29, 2018
Oh, and Louisville’s basketball team only score two more points than Kentucky’s football team did.
Now, time for some postgame notes via UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
· Kentucky is now 10-2 on the season while Louisville falls to 9-4
· UK increased its series lead to 36-16 over its in-state rival. UK has also won two straight and is now 10-2 vs. Louisville under John Calipari.
· Next for Kentucky: The Wildcats begin Southeastern Conference play Jan. 5 at Alabama.
o UK has won 48 regular-season SEC titles and five under Calipari
· Kentucky improved to 13-9 in Louisville vs. the Cardinals.
In the First Half
· Kentucky started Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Reid Travis for the fifth time this season and fourth game in a row.
· UK made its first five shots of the game: a Johnson 3-pointer from the right elbow, dunks from Travis and Washington, and two field goals from Herro
o Hagans threw two nice passes on the dunks
· Herro was on fire in the first half. He had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first 20 minutes, including two 3-pointers, a block and a steal.
o Key plays from Herro included a 3-pointer early in the first half to snuff a 5-0 Louisville run and a 3-pointer, his second of the half, that was a part of an 11-0 UK run.
· Nick Richards had a nice sequence midway through the first half when he collected two offensive rebounds and kept another ball alive on the same possession to ultimately set up a Jemarl Baker Jr. 3-pointer from straightaway.
· Kentucky stretched its lead to 31-17 on a Washington layup for an 11-0 run over a 3:54 stretch.
· The Wildcats held Louisville without a field goal for 7:25 of game time (from the 12:45 mark to 5:20).
· Louisville countered UK’s 11-0 run with a 5-0 spurt of its own to cut the UK lead to 31-22. The Wildcats had three turnovers during the stretch and went 4:17 without a point after taking a 31-17 lead. Johnson ended it with a leaner in the lane.
· Kentucky went into the halftime locker room with a 35 27 lead.
In the Second Half
· The Wildcats started the second half the same way it started the first: Hagans, Herro, Johnson, Washington and Travis.
· After Louisville opened the half with a basket, UK countered with six straight points, featuring a nice block by Travis and a tip-back by the Stanford transfer to increase Kentucky’s lead to 41-29.
· Kentucky’s defense, which was strong in the first half holding Louisville to 31.7 percent, was even better early in the second half. The Wildcats held the Cardinals to 3 for their first 17 to begin the half, including a 1-for-10 stretch as UK increased its lead to 47-35
· The highlight of the game came courtesy of Washington and EJ Montgomery. After Quickely knocked the ball loose on the defensive end, Washington got the ball, raced up the floor through the Louisville defense and threw a perfect lob for Johnson for a lob dunk.
· UK took a 15-point lead, 50-35, on a Herro 3-pointer.
· Louisville countered with a 6-0 run but Hagans silenced the run and the crowed with back-to-back baskets.
· UK’s largest lead was 16 with 2:35 to play.
· Kentucky still has one more remaining nonconference game remaining in the middle of conference play. The Wildcats will host Kansas on Jan. 26 at Rupp Arena.
· UK improved to 8-2 in the KFC Yum! Center (including NCAA Tournament appearances).
· The Wildcats are 93-43 in true road games under Calipari.
· Kentucky is now 243-5 in the Calipari era when leading by at least 10 points at any time in the contest. UK has had a 10-point lead in a whopping 85.3 percent of Calipari’s 285 wins at Kentucky.
· UK dominated in the paint, outscoring the Cardinals 42-2 in the interior. The Wildcats are now 8-1 on the season when outscoring its competition in the paint.
· Kentucky blocked eight shots and has now tallied four or more blocks in all 11 games.
· The Wildcats are now 159-7 when limiting the opponent to 63 points or less. Kentucky held Louisville to 58 points.
· In limiting the Cardinals to 36.4 percent from the field, UK improved to 168-15 under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 40 percent or less.
· Tyler Herro, named the Bluegrass Sports Commission Most Valuable Player, led the effort Saturday with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
· He made a career-high four 3-pointers and a career-high 10 shots.
· He also added five rebounds, two steals and a block.
· He’s averaging 16.7 points over the last six games.
· Keldon Johnson, UK’s leading scorer for the season, continued his great play with 15 points and seven rebounds.
· Ashton Hagans played the role of floor general again while scoring a career-high 11 points.
· He also contributed three assists and three steals in 24 minutes.
· PJ Washington tied his career high with four blocked shots.
· In his second straight all-around game, he added five points, a team-high eight rebounds and three assists
· Immanuel Quickley tied his career high with two steals.
· Calipari is now 285-66 at UK.
· Calipari has a 730-206 all-time on-court record.
· He is now 12 wins away from tying Joe B. Hall for the second-most victories by a UK head coach in program history.
· Calipari is now 16-7 all-time vs. Louisville and 10-2 as the coach at Kentucky.
· It was Calipari’s first meeting vs. first-year Louisville head coach Chris Mack, who previously served at Xavier.