Recap: Kentucky Wildcats dominate rival UofL 90-61

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 29: Hamidou Diallo
LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 29: Hamidou Diallo /
LEXINGTON, KY – DECEMBER 29: Hamidou Diallo
LEXINGTON, KY – DECEMBER 29: Hamidou Diallo /

The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Louisville Cardinals 90-61. The Cats dominated the Cards and emerged with their largest victory over UofL since 1999.

The Kentucky Wildcats caught fire late in the first half and rode that wave to a 90-61 victory over the Louisville Cardinals. The Cats were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had a career-high 24 points. Gilgeous-Alexander shot 50% from the field, had 5 rebounds and 4 assists. The 29 point win was the largest margin of victory in the series since the Wildcats defeated the Cardinals 76-46 in 1999.

First Half

The Kentucky Wildcats dominated the final 10 minutes of the first half against the Cardinals. Hamidou Diallo led the way early with 11 points punctuated by a fast break dunk on the no-look pass from Quade Green. Diallo finished with 14 points. PJ Washington added 10 as the Wildcats used a 25-8 run to close the first half and took a 14 point lead into the locker room.

The game was back-and-forth early with both teams struggling to make shots. Kevin Knox had a first half he’d like to forget. The Kentucky freshman was 0-of-4 from the field, including 0-of-2 from downtown. Knox sat for the last 10:39 of the half after being slapped with his second foul midway through the first half, Knox fouled out late in the game and finished with only 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Foul trouble got the better of both teams early in the game, but it really affected Louisville and their ability to defend the paint. The Cardinals lost Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding, their best interior defenders, midway through the first half after both were benched after they received their second personal fouls. Mahmoud would later foul out with 8 minutes left in the game.

The Wildcats attacked the paint, getting to the charity stripe 18 times in the first half. Washington was a perfect 6-of-6. The Cats to outrebounded the Cards 27-23. Diallo and Wenyen Gabriel grabbed 5 each in the first 20 minutes.

Second Half

Gilgeous-Alexander had an outstanding second half. He scored 3 straight buckets early in the half. He later had 2 steals on consecutive defensive stops that resulted in two straight baskets for the Canadian freshman. Big Blue Nation collectively held their breath early in the second half when Diallo appeared to injury his right leg. He returned to the game about 4 minutes later and a sigh of relief could be heard throughout Rupp Arena.

The Kentucky Wildcats continued to pour it on in the second half. Green came out firing, knocking down back-to-back perimeter jumpers. Green finished with 13 points and knocked 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Louisville was out of sync all game long. The Cardinals were 3-of-25 from three-point territory. UofL was led in scoring by Deng Adel, however, he was only 1-of-6 from downtown. Ray Spalding put in 12 points for the Cards and also grabbed 11 rebounds. The Cardinals fell to 10-3 on the season and open ACC play on Tuesday against Pittsburgh.