LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky basketball rivalry with Louisville resumes tonight (as if it ever stops) when the Wildcats and Cardinals collide for the 50th time in the series. U of L’s KFC Yum! Center will be rocking, and SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker and Joe Mussatto are on the scene to provide all the sights, sounds and postgame reaction.
Stay tuned to this page and refresh often for real-time updates as No. 6 Kentucky (10-1) and No. 10 Louisville (10-1) both look for another signature non-conference win. First, allow us to set the stage with these essential reads:
Starters, stats, storylines and how to watch Cats-Cards. John Calipari and Rick Pitino don’t exchange Christmas cards. And UK hopes to “take the fight to them” like a bloodied Tyler Ulis did two years ago.
FINAL: Louisville 73, Kentucky 70
69-66, 41 seconds 2H: It looked over, but sloppy play from the Cards has the Cats still in it.
65-61 UL, 3:13 2H: Take a deep breath, everyone. The crowd at the Yum! Center isn’t doing Kentucky any favors down the stretch. Just when it seemed like outside shots would surely fall for Malik Monk and the Wildcats, they still haven’t. Cards defense has been lockdown in the second half.
55-53 UK, 7:18 2H: Man, what a slugfest. Both offenses have struggled in the second half and shots aren’t falling. One impressive note for the Cats: Malik Monk and company have been cold from behind the arc and somehow they manage to lead. It’s not always going to be pretty. The Cards still have the crowd behind them and it’s only going to get more rowdy in the Yum! Center.
53-53, 10:09 2H: This is how all Kentucky-Louisville games should be played, right? No shortage of slams for Kentucky (Bam Adebayo) in the second half. The Cats are 4 for 17 from 3-point land and Malik Monk has been ice cold. Kentucky will be in good shape if he heats up even a few degrees.
51-48 UL, 12:15 2H: Oh my, Bam Adebayo. The big man in the middle just put another Louisville defender on a poster. Lots of talk on Monk and Fox so far, but it still seems like Bam is ready to have his moment.
47-43 UL, 15:36 2H: Kentucky had to weather a flurry of storms in the first half and they’re already confronting another one early in the second half. Louisville has taken back momentum and Quentin Snider continues his hot shooting. Something to watch for Kentucky: Isaiah Briscoe picked up his third foul but Calipari is leaving him in. The key for the Cats will be generating a fluid offense when things slow down in the half court.
HALFTIME: Kentucky 40, Louisville 39
What more do we want from a big-time rivalry game between two top-10 teams? Guards De’Aaron Fox (14 points, 2 assists, 1 steal) and Quentin Snider (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) are duking it out while the officials blow whistles like their lives depend on it. Now 10 fouls apiece, including two on Cats star Malik Monk, who sat for the final 8-plus minutes of the half and has just six points after his 47-point outburst against UNC. Freshman forward Bam Adebayo roared to life for Kentucky late in the half, including a Shaq-like pivot and power slam – a two-hand rim bender. He has 6 points, 5 rebounds and a steal. Kentucky is being outshot (39.4 percent to 46.7) and outrebounded (21-17), but still leads on the road against an elite opponent. Here’s your full first-half box:
31-31, 3:21 1H: The Cats and Cards are trading punches. U of L went Johnson dunk, Mathiang block, Mitchell 3-pointer for a 29-22 lead. Just as the Yum! Center was boiling over, Fox scored inside and Willis buried a three to quiet the crowd. A Gabriel offensive rebound and two free throws tied it, then a Fox dunk in transition capped a 9-0 Kentucky run for the lead. Now we’re all square again. Gabriel has picked up his second foul but is giving the Cats huge hustle plays: 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal in 7 minutes.
24-22 UL, 7:55 1H: The Wildcats went four and a half minutes without scoring – taking some terrible shots in the process – and Malik Monk picked up his second foul and headed to the bench with 8:52 to go in the half. The good news for UK: The Cards also hit a slump (two and a half scoreless minutes) and failed to pull away when the Cats were cold. Kentucky is shooting just 38.1 percent compared to 45 percent for Louisville. Despite much booing from the home crowd, both sides have five fouls.
22-20 UL, 10:55 1H: Mychal Mulder, who didn’t play against UNC, checked in and promptly buried a 3-pointer to put UK up 20-14 with 13:06 to go in the half – then Louisville countered with an 8-0 blitz in a blink, including a pair of 3-pointers by Deng Adel. Yum! Center is rocking. Fun basketball is fun.
17-14 UK, 13:52 1H: We have a frenetic early pace, which Rick Pitino might not be loving. The Cardinals’ offense looks pretty good to start, but Kentucky is flashing its crazy speed by pushing it on every made (or missed) basket. The Cats at one point scored on three straight U of L makes. De’Aaron Fox’s 3-pointer briefly made it a 5-point lead after five minutes. Freshman Wenyen Gabriel came to play for UK: 2 steals, 2 rebounds (1 offensive) and a block in his first 3-plus minutes. The atmosphere here is electric and the game has so far not disappointed.
The Christmas Card pic.twitter.com/JnNLfynPnu
— Kent Spencer (@WHAS11Kent) December 21, 2016
Cats getting fired up on the Cards' logo. pic.twitter.com/jxi3yRNsxg
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) December 21, 2016