Louisville basketball women to challenge unbeaten Kentucky

Just what the University of Louisville women’s basketball team didn’t need right now, a game against the University of Kentucky.

Yeah, I know, playing UK is like being invited out to the back alley for a fistfight, especially at Rupp Arena. These games are more than just a game, more than just another basketball game, they have a habit of turning fans into people they don’t want to be.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.17.35 PMSelf-respect is always at stake when these two teams meet, and it takes a while to recover from the emotion that engulfs both fan bases.

UK has won the last four games in eerily similar fashion, falling behind in the first half and mounting furious rallies to win in the second half.  Endurance could be a factor for the Wildcats this time around, however. They enter this game with only eight scholarship players, with four players having transferred since the season began.

Kentucky is 7-0, ranked eighth in the country, and has been pummeling the opposition thus far. UofL, after losing three of its first four games is 3-4, nowhere among the top 25, and badly needing to build some cohesion, more momentum.

The exact opposite of where UofL expected to be at this point in the season, having been ranked No. 8 in pre-season polls.

UK is led by Makala Epps, a 5-foot-10 junior guard who originally committed to Louisville, who is 16.2 points per and Janee Thompson, a 5-foot-7 senior, currently averaging 15 points. All five starters are averaging double figures.

The most encouraging news for UofL fans is Asia Durr appears to be back on track after struggling with an off-season operation, having led Louisville to a signature win over Michigan State, followed by a romp over Valparaiso. The showdown against UK is made for her, an opportunity to showcase her real toughness.

The other good news is that sophomores Mariya Moore and Myisha Hines-Allen were becoming more aggressive. A pleasant surprise is the Courtnee Walton has become a scorer and a rebounder. Briahanna Jackson never needed any prompting, coming to play every game.

They will converge at Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. on Thursday, with the game to be televised on the SEC Network.

 

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.