In a wild, whistle riddled, Battle of The Bluegrass, the better team won.
The explosiveness of the talented Wildcats proved too much for the Cardinals to handle. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the Cats with a monstrous 24 points and 19 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist at times couldn’t be touched by the Louisville defenders. Every time the Cardinals would think about closing the deficit, Kidd-Gilchrist would topple the comeback with a big play.
Meanwhile, Russ Smith put on clinic for the Cards. Smith recorded 30 points, the game high. Russ See TV appeared to be the only player unafraid to shoot the ball. Smith was leaps and bounds the most effective player for the Cardinals and again shined on national television.
Louisville continued to struggle behind the arc. Shooting 22% from the perimeter. Kyle Kuric was essentially a no-show, and besides getting bossed around by Kidd-Gilchrist posted a measly 2 points.
In the first half Louisville stuck to the game plan, benching UK’s Anthony Davis with two fouls. With out a towering Davis patrolling the inside, the Cardinals rallied from a 15 point deficit to be behind by 3 at the break.
In the second half, the fouls caught up to the Cardinals. Each of Louisville’s starters racked up at least 3 fouls. With UofL forced to play more reserved defense, the Wildcats were able to take over.
Peyton Siva and Russ Smith attempted to drive down the lane and bring back the Cards but a freed Anthony Davis had no threw up 6 blocks in the second half to close out every lay-up.
Other solid performances came from Jared Swopshire and Rakeem Buckles who played well when Dieng sat.
The loss is the third straight in the UK UL series. It also raises some serious alarms on the Louisville side.
UK Coach John Calipari clearly has the momentum in all sides of the program. Calipari is getting more recruits, he’s won all three of his meetings with the Cards, and he’s got postseason success. Calipari is hot and trendy, attracting young talent, and luring superstars like rapper Jay-Z to his games.
Meanwhile, Pitino is coming off a huge scandal. He keeps losing recruiting battles, has announced his retirement 5 years from now, and appears to be off base with plenty of members of Card Nation. Pitino has to realign the Cardinals quickly to prevent a downward spiral that could ruin an originally promising season.
The (12-2) Cardinals now travel to Madison Square Garden to play St. Johns. Although the Red Storm are hovering over .500 MSG can be just as daunting as Rupp.