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The Kentucky Wildcats faced off against their most hated rival Saturday afternoon in front of the largest crowd in Rupp Arena history. The fans were witness to one of the ugliest and overall strangest games ever played in the series. In the end Kentucky was able to hold on to remain one of the last four unbeaten teams in all of college basketball.
The intensity level was high from the opening tip and came to a head less than a minute into the contest as both teams picked up technical fouls after a skirmish underneath the Kentucky basket. Both teams struggled to find their composure and shooting touch thereafter and the Cats took a 27-19 lead into the half.
The second half started much like the first half ended with UK struggling to get into any type of rhythm on offense and committing unforced turnovers. Louisville was able to take their first and only lead of the night at 42-41 before Kentucky went on an 8-0 sparked by John Wall to regain control. The Cats never looked back and held on to win 71-62.
This game can best be described by one word-UGLY. The Wildcats never seemed to get into any type of flow on offense and the Cardinals struggled shooting the ball especially in the first half where they shot a whopping 17%. The most tired people on the court had to be the officials who seemed to call a foul every five seconds. For the game there were 51 total fouls called, including five technicals. The constant stoppage of play made it very difficult for either team to get into any kind of rhythm.
The Cats again struggled mightily from the free throw line where they had seen steady improvement in recent games. The team made only 21-34 free throws on the night, a number that would have been much worse if not for the excellent shooting of Eric Bledsoe in the final minutes of the game. The team needs to take advantage of these easy opportunities to put points on the board, especially in a game where they struggled shooting the basketball.
The best player on the court today was DeMarcus Cousins. He was able to utilize his size and strength to gather what seemed like every rebound and dominate the post throughout the contest. Cousins led the Cats with 18 points, 18 rebounds and continues to improve with each and every game. His ability to stay out of foul trouble and on the court is extremely important to this team as they enter SEC play next week.
The Wildcats victory over Louisville was not exactly aesthetically pleasing or honestly even easy to watch, but as Calipari stated after the game you are not going to play your best every night. The team was 2-14 from the three point line, committed 18 turnovers, and shot only 39% from the floor and still managed to improve their record to 15-0 on the season. As Calipari has stated throughout the season this team just has an unbelievable will to win. What more could we ask for.
The Cats will open up Southeastern Conference play next Saturday at home as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs.