Cards Hang On, 80-77

Louisville was able to hang on to defeat Kentucky for the first time since the Billy Gillispie era, as they notched an 80-77 win over the Cats. Louisville was up 51-34 with all of the momentum with just under 15 minutes to play, but Kentucky would not go down without a fight. Kyle Wiltjer hit two straight threes to trim the lead, and Kentucky was able to trim it to 2 with 5 minutes left, but were unable to get it any closer, but that’s not to say it didn’t get very interesting. A Russ Smith layup pushed Louisville’s lead to 9 with 2:16 remaining, but UK was able to make Cardinal fans sweat. Archie Goodwin crossed over Peyton Siva for a step-back and-one 3 to cut it to 3 with :30 remaining, but Louisville was able to overcome.

The main thing to take away from this game is simple: Louisville is very good, and Kentucky is beginning to live up to their potential. CardsAndCats.com is about both teams, and while I am the biggest Cardinal homer on the planet, I can give credit where credit is due. I told a UK fan friend before the game that I was expecting a game similar to that of 2009, where Louisville is in control the entire game, blows the lead at the end, but hangs on to win. That is pretty much exactly what happened, but there is a fundamental difference between the two games – this UK team will go far, unlike the 2009 version of the Cats.

We’ll start with Louisville. Gorgui Dieng returned tonight and it was evident that he was quite rusty. Gorgui began the season as the focal point of the offense, taking a David Padgett role in the high post. When he went down, that was all scrapped, and it will take a few games to initiate that back into the offense, and get his wrist back to 100%. Pitino said in his post game press conference that he still has to get back his defensive timing. He was plagued by foul trouble the whole game due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or reverting back to freshman Gorgui and leaving his feet too early. He will be back and help the team tremendously.

Moving forward for Louisville, the sky is the limit, and Pitino nailed it in the postgame (obviously). Peyton and Russ have been the catalysts for this team all year, and have consistently played at a very high level. The key to this team will be for the others to match their level of play. Behanan played a great game today, and has strung together a few games in a row where he has played like the guy we saw in the NCAA tournament last year. Wayne Blackshear had been playing at a high level before today where he struggled, but his growth WILL continue, and he will be an absolutely vital player on this team. The keys are Harrell, Ware, and Hancock. Harrell is already on the fast track, but Ware and Hancock need to gain some confidence. If they can, this team will be the same team they were last year defensively, but lightyears ahead offensively.

The future is also bright for Kentucky. After big back-to-back losses to Baylor and Notre Dame, I thought that this was going to be a throw-away (and by throw-away I mean sweet 16) season as they reload to become title contenders next year. After tonight, my opinion is completely changed. Kentucky fans have to be thrilled with their performance tonight. They came into an extremely hostile environment with a group of freshmen, held their poise down 17, and if not for horrific free throw shooting they may have won the game.

Archie Goodwin is a ball-player. Clearly a lottery pick, he was able to keep Kentucky in the game. The most surprising player to me today was Ryan Harrow. Ball-handling was a big question mark for UK going into the game, and Harrow stepped up big time. A point guard playing 39 minutes in a highly-pressurized, very loud atmosphere against the peskiest defensive duo in college basketball - and having zero turnovers – speaks volumes to the composure of the young guard. He held his own against the pressure and led his team well. The question mark for the Cats is if Alex Poythress can start to live up to his potential. At times, it looks like he just doesn’t care on the court, and Calipari only gave him 15 minutes because of it. He should be mentioned in the same breath, talent-wise, as Goodwin and Noel, but he hasn’t matched that with his effort. If he can start to contribute the way that he is capable, and the team continues to mature, Kentucky will be a force to be reckoned with come March.

In the end, the Cards got the victory. It was a great environment at the Yum! Center and the fans were very civil. Moving forward, both teams have a ton to be excited about, and I am confident that both teams will find their groove by season’s end. I really believe that BOTH teams will be top five teams at the end of the year, and it will be a fun ride for the next four months. Stay tuned…

 Rick Pitino Postgame

John Calipari Postgame

cats cards
Louisville Wins Battle of the Bluegrass 80-77

Louisville & Rick Pitino took down the Kentucky Wildcats for the 1st time in 5 games on Saturday.  It was an outstanding game, hotly contested, and we witnessed some great performances from Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, and Chane Behanan for the Cards & Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, & Kyle Wiltjer for the Cats. 22,810 fans were treated to a real treat of Bluegrass basketball.

We will have extensive coverage including post-game video from both coaches & possibly some player video as well.  Stay tuned.

Louisville Wins Battle of the Bluegrass: Cats Show Heart, Cards Show Talent

dienguk

 

Louisville ends a four game losing streak against the Kentucky Wildcats in the KFC Yum! Center, 80-77.

Both teams shot 48 percent from the court, but Kentucky struggled from the free throw line. Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer hit two huge threes and brought the momentum the Wildcats direction.

John Calipari had a fantastic game plan, in the end it just wasn’t enough to overcome Louisville’s defensive pressure.

Russ Smith had some silly mistakes, but he sparked some huge plays as well. He ended the game with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.

Siva added 19 points and Chane Behanan 20 points and 7 rebounds.

Gorgui Dieng had a decent game for it being his first game back with his wrist injury. He ended the game with six points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Dieng’s parents watch him play all for the first time since coming to the United States.

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In the end it was a huge victory for Louisville, we have bragging rights for at least a year and the confidence is up. They did make several mistakes in the second half, but UofL over came and still ended up with a victory.

Pitino said after the game, “I don’t even think we have reached our full potential.”

Louisville defense is the best in the country and have the best chance at a national championship than they have in years.

 

BOX SCORE

Kentucky Wildcats
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
N Noel 31 4-5 0-0 0-1 3 8 0 2 2 2 4 8
W Cauley-Stein 23 3-4 0-0 0-4 4 8 2 0 3 0 4 6
Julius Mays, G 35 1-8 1-6 0-0 1 3 2 0 0 2 3 3
Ryan Harrow, G 39 6-15 1-1 4-6 3 5 3 2 0 0 4 17
A Goodwin 36 8-15 3-5 3-4 0 5 2 1 0 5 3 22
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Jarrod Polson, G 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Wiltjer, F 19 4-7 4-7 2-2 0 3 1 0 0 3 1 14
A Poythress 15 2-4 1-2 2-6 1 5 0 0 0 2 2 7
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
28-58 10-21 11-23 12 38 10 5 5 14 21 77
48.3% 47.6% 47.8%
Louisville Cardinals
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Chane Behanan, F 35 8-13 0-0 4-6 2 7 3 3 1 1 3 20
Wayne Blackshear, G-F 31 2-7 1-2 0-2 1 7 0 0 0 0 1 5
Zach Price, C 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Peyton Siva, G 31 6-11 2-4 5-5 1 2 1 1 0 3 5 19
Russ Smith, G 30 9-20 0-1 3-6 1 7 3 3 0 3 4 21
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Luke Hancock, G-F 14 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0
Gorgui Dieng, C 20 3-4 0-0 0-0 3 7 1 0 2 1 4 6
Kevin Ware, G 14 1-4 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 2 0 0 2 2
M Harrell 23 1-3 0-0 5-6 2 4 0 0 1 0 1 7
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
30-62 3-7 17-25 10 35 11 9 4 9 21 80
48.4% 42.9% 68.0%