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UK Basketball vs. Louisville rivalry facts

To whet the appetite before the highly anticipated December 31st tilt.

Louisville v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This year’s Kentucky vs. Louisville showdown will be a bit unusual: one of the teams will be favored very, very heavily.

With the Redbirds off to an 0-8 start and cementing themselves as one of the worst power conference teams in the country, most Kentucky fans aren’t worried about losing the game.

Rather, they’re licking their chops at the chance to counter the three-point loss in December 2020 at the Yum! Center with a massive blowout victory at Rupp Arena.

Casual basketball fans won’t be interested in this should-be very one-sided matchup, but BBN’s got an opportunity to relish giving an absolute licking.

Here are some facts and nuggets I’ve dug up before the game:

  • There have been just two overtime UK vs. UofL games: a March 1983 UK loss to the Cards in the Elite Eight and a thrilling December 2019 78-70 win at Rupp against a #3 ranked Louisville team that was the highest ranked Cardinal team UK’s ever played.
  • The biggest Kentucky win ever against Louisville definitely came in 2012 when the two teams met on college hoops’ biggest stage: the Final Four. 1-seed UK faced 4-seed Louisville in a game both programs knew was the biggest in the history of the rivalry, if not their entire program’s history. Both teams gave it everything they had in a great basketball game, but fortunately for the Cats, they had Anthony Davis and won 69-61 en route to their 8th national championship.
  • The worst loss to Louisville was probably the aforementioned Elite Eight loss in 83 that sent the Cards to the Final Four, but they didn’t advance to the title game, and all time, UK leads them 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series with Louisville 37-17, and Kentucky leads the modern annual series 28-14 that began in 1983. While the series heavily tilts UK’s way most of the time, each loss to Louisville feels to many fans like 20. I’m sure and feels like 20 wins to the Cards fans.
  • The most points ever scored by UK against UofL: 103 in 1991.
  • Kenny Payne beat UK once as a player in 1988 in a 22-point win on December 31st, 34 years to the day before this year’s matchup where he faces the Cats again as coach.