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    Louisville Basketball Falls to Kentucky 58-50
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    The fourth ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals welcomed the top rated University of Kentucky Wildcats to the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday for a long awaited matchup on national television. The game lived up to the hype with Kentucky coming out on top 58-50.

    The atmosphere opened up electrified. The student section led the way with possibly the loudest cheering in the history of the arena. The profane jeering was held at a minimum while it was maximum support for your team, red or blue.

    There was so much red that the blue stood out. Sentiments run to extremes for this rivalry, once known as the Dream Game, so no one wore purple. You came in a school color because you were expected to pick a side.

    Neither team is an offensive juggernaut and that realization played out throughout the game. Cardinal Coach Rick Pitino openly admits, “We’re a little offensively challenged.” If you came to see it rain threes or to see the teams trading dunks, you picked the wrong game. Montrezl Harrell came back from his one game suspension and didn’t have the game Louisville fans wanted him to have, scoring 9 points and collecting 8 rebounds.

    His team mates wanted to feed him the ball and were successful at times, but Kentucky was way too tall to let him have his way as he normally does. The Cards tried to counter the Wildcat size advantage by rotating Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku, both 6-10 forward/centers. They added defensive pressure but couldn’t put anything in on the offensive end.

    And that’s where you saw the difference in the game. Kentucky dominated points in the paint with a 24-16 advantage. Getting Mathiang or Onuaku to score could have helped. Anas Mahmoud didn’t play but he’s not an offensive threat at this stage in his career so you couldn’t have counted on points from him either.

    The guard play of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier was good, but the Cards only dished one assist. They made passes, but, as Coach Pitino said, “It was a question of whether we could score.” Rozier could, putting in 15 and Jones had 13. Jones had the assist.

    Wayne Blackshear’s star turn from the last game fizzled as his shot wasn’t falling this time. He provided veteran leadership and at times would sink something, just not enough somethings.

    John Calipari’s Wildcat team in its 2014-15 version has so many stars that he can platoon players, meaning he can take an entire group of five out of the game and replace them with players equally good. He was only able to do that twice in this game.

    Louisville continued to keep it close until the very end when the Cats went up by as many as 12. And just when you thought the dagger was in deep, the Cards would pick it up again and close to within five.

    As with any rivalry game, you had some chippy play but it didn’t get out of hand. Coach Calipari does think his team relies on calls too much of time time. But you can do that, if the officials are going to cooperate and give them to you. This game, the theme seemed to be let ‘em play and that’s what they did.

    Next for the Cards is a return to the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday against Long Beach State. The tip off time has changed to 4pm to accommodate the football team’s Belk Bowl.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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