Santa Claus came early this year. His present for #10 Louisville was a 73-70 victory over rival #6 Kentucky. The Cards broke a four game losing streak in the series to the Wildcats, who have dominated the series for the most part. Game number 50 was one of the more memorable ones for both sides.
Quentin Snider had a career high 22 points to lead all scorers. He added another six rebounds and five assists to those numbers. "Q's" big game was the first 20 point performance out of a Louisville player this season.
Deng Adel, Jaylen Johnson, and Donovan Mitchell came to Snider's aide tonight. They put up 18, 14, and 13, respectively. Ray Spalding was the only othe Cardinal to score tonight with six points.
Kentucky was led by De'Aaron Fox, who put up 21 points. Edrice Adebayo added 11 points and nine rebounds. Malik Monk, who was coming off his 47 point performance against North Carolina, struggled on the night, but put up 16 points.
Louisville led in most figures on the stat sheet. FG percentage: UK 39.7, U of L 43.3 3FG percentage: UK 22.7, U of L 42.9 FT percentage: UK 65.5, U of L 75 Rebounds: UK 36, U of L 40
Typically numbers don't lie. Kentucky struggled with making shots including their strengths in three pointers and free throws. It isn't often U of L outrebounds a ranked opponent, nor UK ever getting outrebounded, but that happened tonight.
Most fans probably won't ask what happened, but would rather take the win and leave it. I, on the other and, am curious as to how the Cards pulled off the win over the more-talented Wildcats. Kentucky has the better overall talent on their team. Don't lie to yourself if you think that's false.
Kentucky started four sophomores and a freshman. UCLA and UNC proved that these youngsters are still learning at the collegiate level. This was UK's first true road test. Their "road" games against Michigan State and North Carolina were at neutral locations. The Wildcats had trouble scoring. A team that was averaging points in the mid-90's put up 70. Snider's career high powered the way. His big game drew double-teams and opened up other players in the second half. Kentucky won the football game so Louisville had to win the basketball game. A football game doesn't actually determine the outcome of a men's basketball game, but the two schools have split the games since 2011 so it's an odd stat to make note of.
Louisville improves to 11-1. They open up ACC play with their next game on Wednesday, December 28, when ranked Virginia visits the KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky drops to 11-2. They begin SEC play with a visit to Ole Miss on Thursday, December 29.
The Cards and Cats do not play again in basketball this season unless they meet up in the post-season. With both teams a near sure-fire to at least the Elite Eight there is a good possibility we see round two in March.