Kentucky wins again. In basketball, of course.
A 75-73 win over the University of Louisville in Lexington.
UofL wasn’t about to sneak up on the Wildcats, not with the adrenalin pumping at industrial strength at Rupp Arena, UK easily playing its best game of the season in front of a crowd of 24,412 partisans.
Making shots they don’t normally take, probably shouldn’t take, drilling 11 of 23 shots from beyond the 3-point line. Thirty footers? Really? UofL would contain Jamal Murray to three of them and 12 points. However, Tyler Ulis would again turn in another game of his life against the Cards, with four 3-pointers among his 21 points.
UK outscoring the Cardinals 11-4 from the free throw lane, making 23 trips compared to 14 for UofL. A rugged, physical game with another home team again enjoying the benefit of the doubt on the physical aspects of the game. Rick Pitino declaring afterwards that he may have to change his philosophy on communicating with officials.
— Best player on both teams was the one who missed what would have been the winning shot at the end. Damion Lee continuing to unveil an endless string of moves, only to miss the fade-away with one second on the clock. Lee would connect on eight of 20 shots, including two 3-pointers, and nine of 10 free throw attempts for game honors with 27 points.
— UofL fans have to be encouraged by the continuing improvement of Chinanu Onuaku who seems to be catching on, playing big against a major opponent. Onuaku pulling down 10 rebounds, scoring nine points, even making a couple of assists. Now if he can learn to stay out of foul trouble, he’s going to be a handful for Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
— Trey Lewis, feeling the heat of the rivalry the overbearing crowd, needing to play under control, with three turnovers. Six of 10 from the field, including two of three from behind the 3-point line, for his 15 points.
— Donovan Mitchell not intimidated on the big stage, progressing nicely, with three field goals and eight points.
— Quinton Snider not making any turnovers but not scoring any points and making only one assist.
It’s debatable whether Kentucky wanted this game more than Louisville. That’s not possible. As Pitino noted after the game, “We hate to lose to these guys.”
Or whether UK will have a better team at the end of the season. However, the Wildcats had the answers they needed on Saturday.