basketball Edit

GAME RECAP: No. 6 Kentucky falls at No. 10 Louisville 73-70

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Well, that was crazy. Fans of both No. 6 Kentucky and No. 10 Louisville can now exhale for the first time in what seems like forever. The Cardinals earned a 73-70 victory at the KFC Yum! Center in what was a back-and-fourth battle all night long.

It was a game that came down to the final minutes, each possession bigger than the last.

Louisville nursed a six-point lead with 1:44 to go, but UK coach John Calipari’s squad wouldn’t quit. The Wildcats clawed their way back to cut the U of L lead to two and keep the streak of four straight wins against their instate rival alive.

But then a Louisville miss was corralled by Jaylen Johnson and put back in for two, pushing the Cardinal’s lead to two-possessions and nearly sealed the deal for Rick Pitino’s club.

Just when you thought the game couldn’t get any better, Kentucky freshman Malik Monk – who had missed his first eight attempts from three after setting a record for most points in a game in the Calipari era (47) – curled off a ball screen with the Wildcats trailing by four and buried a three.

Two U of L made free throws ensued and Kentucky had one last chance. Down three with 8.2 ticks left, all 22,783 in attendance knew who was supposed to get the ball. Malik Monk.

Isaiah Briscoe dribbled the length of the court and made a dribble-handoff to Monk who launched from deep, only to see his prayer clank off the front of the iron and the Yum! Center crowd erupt in joy.

Calipari’s streak was snapped. With a chance to win nine of 10 against Louisville, it was the Cardinals who came out winners on Wednesday.

The two schools traded blows for the first few minutes of the first half, but neither team was able to get that knock out punch and create separation. The Wildcats answered every U of L bucket in the first minutes of the game within seconds, but some timely scoring from junior guard Quentin Snider kept the Cardinals close.

Kentucky was able to build a six-point lead about halfway through the first, but struggled in the half court and settled for 12 straight jump shots, resulting in a 15-2 Louisville run. The Cardinals saw their lead grow to seven late in the first, but the speed of Kentucky quickly erased the deficit and regained the lead.

While Kentucky struggled from deep (5-of-22), freshman guard De’Aaron Fox had 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting to keep the offense productive. Bam Adebayo also helped carry the load on offense, throwing down thunderous dunks and finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Meanwhile, Kentucky native Quentin Snider went off for 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting and carried the Cardinals when their offense seemed out of rhythm at times. Snider finished with six rebounds and five assists, but also hit two timely three-pointers.

Kentucky had plenty of chances to cut into the Louisville lead late in the game, but left big opportunities at the line. The Wildcats finished the night 19-of-29 (65.5 percent), while the Cardinals went 15-of-20 (75 percent). Both teams entered Wednesday’s contest averaging 68 percent from the charity stripe.

Kentucky (10-2) gets a break for the Holidays then opens conference play at Ole Miss (8-3) on Dec. 29.