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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Noah Cross had to create a "train car" for a Polar Express parade at his school, and so he brilliantly created one where he could dunk on De'Aaron Fox.

I_medium Spread check: Pick 'Em.

I_medium The first victory of rivalry day already occurred late last night when the U of L managers had no trouble waxing their counterparts from Lexington.

There seems to be a lot of debate over who the game's MVP was, so we'll just give it to everyone.

I_medium The rivalry is unavoidable for everyone involved, but especially for Louisville's homegrown players.

"The texts, they're mostly for tickets to the game," said a grinning Quentin Snider, a Louisville native who is U of L's starting point guard. "But then you just get Snapchats or stuff on Instagram, and it goes from there. There's a lot of smack talk."

For Snider, Ray Spalding, David Levitch, Tyler Sharpe and Dwayne Sutton, U of L's players who are from the Louisville area, Kentucky coach John Calipari's words on Tuesday probably hit home a bit harder than players from other places.

Everybody talks about the UK-U of L rivalry as if it's life and death, Calipari said. But "it's worse than that."

Snider, a former star at Ballard High, said after Saturday's U of L win over Eastern Kentucky that it didn't take him long as a kid to figure out how badly "the city wants to beat Kentucky."

At ACC media day in October, Snider explained how his decision to sign with and play for the Cards received many, many notes of congratulations. And yet they almost always came with an added nudge, a friendly reminder that beating UK is paramount in his college career.

I_medium The foreign-born players on the two teams process the game a little differently.

Even though the teams' international contingents speak of the geographic separation that defines their national sports rivalries, Kentucky sophomore forward Isaac Humphries, who is from Sydney, Australia, said he was initially struck by the width of the competitive chasm between schools separated by just 75 or so miles along Interstate 64.

"It just blew my mind because they're so close to each other and yet so divided," said Humphries, one of two international players on Kentucky's roster. New Zealander Tai Wynyard, a redshirt freshman, is the other.

Stockman said his mind was blown simply by the importance placed on a college basketball game.

"I sometimes think it's funny how serious certain fans from both parts take it," he said. "Grown-up fans talking trash about 18-year-old basketball players? Sometimes I think they should realize [what they're doing].

"I know people develop a hate for the other team. It's cool to have so much passion. That's great. But we just don't have anything like that in Norway. Maybe some people, but I've never experienced it, personally."

I_medium Western Kentucky destroyed Memphis State for their third straight bowl win last night thanks in part to one of the better trick plays you're ever going to see.

I_medium Citrus Bowl ticket prices are way down compared to last year, which is good news for Louisville fans who are still on the fence about whether or not to make the trip.

I_medium Evvvverybody's comin' around.

I_medium Rick Bozich lists five things that will decide the Louisville-Kentucky game.

I_medium The Patrick Sparks travel game still bothers Rick Pitino too.

I_medium Everyone always handles the rivalry differently.

Pitino has spent the week talking not only about Kentucky's speed and talent, but about how well-coached the Wildcats are, that they don't turn the ball over much, or make mistakes to beat themselves.

"I'm happy when it is over," Calipari said. "Just get it done. I mean, everyone makes it life or death and it's not life or death. It's worse than that. I guarantee Rick is the same way. Let's just play the game and let's go. We have our league to deal with. He has his league to deal with. Let's just move on."

For Louisville, the game is a bit different because it's the first in a boxed set. The Cardinals will follow it with their Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 12-ranked Virginia, then will face No. 16 Indiana before traveling to No. 25 Notre Dame.

"I know what it means to the fans," Pitino said. "But we're not going to prepare different. We're not going to coach different. This is a game for the players."

"I'm excited for all of those games," Mitchell said. "They're the kind of games you want to play."

I_medium Trinity won the King of the Bluegrass Tournament, and Shamrock sophomore David Johnson -- a name you should know -- was named MVP.

I_medium Soon.

I_medium Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Kentucky has an advantage over Louisville at every spot but power forward, and predicts a 72-67 Wildcat victory.

I_medium Malik Williams is going to be a problem at Louisville.

I_medium Class of 2018 point guard Luguentz Dort, one of Louisville's top targets in that class, will be in the Yum Center for tonight's game. Romeo Langford, a local kid you may or may not have head of, will be there as well.

I_medium The second worst thing about this racist rant from the Jefferson Mall that has gone viral is that nobody around the situation steps in and says anything.

I_medium This is a very true #RivalryStory:

Congrats to the Sinnards, and here's hoping baby Lyla is the Bluegrass rivalry boost we've been missing.

I_medium Syracuse's John Gillon is fed up with the extreme reactions from his fan base and would like to play 1-on-1 against anyone who says he sucks.

I_medium I love this woman.

I_medium So we mentioned that yesterday was the 30th anniversary of "Walk Like an Egyptian" topping the Billboard Hot 100, well the song also just happened to be playing during Mrs. CC's Cycle Bar (not as cool as it sounds) session last night.

Anas triple-double in a few short hours. Bank on it.

I_medium Fran McCaffery went 100% Fran McCaffery last night, which is always a scary thing.

I_medium Rutgers received a notice of allegations from the NCAA yesterday detailing seven possible violations.

I_medium After taking care of business and winning MVP of the Boca Raton Bowl last night, former Central High star Ace Wales' was already starting to get his mind right for Wednesday night.

I would have enjoyed it if the previous regime had given that young man a scholarship.

I_medium These photos of deep sea fishing discoveries in Russia look like something out of a science fiction movie.

I_medium Cal will always Cal.

I_medium The Louisville game means more to last year's unlikely hero, Kentucky's Dominique Hawkins.

I_medium The story of Muhammad Ali talking a suicidal man down from a ledge is one of the best.

I_medium The has a short video preview of the Citrus Bowl.

I_medium Hey, remember this?

I member.

I_medium North Carolina has reportedly been hit with a THIRD notice of allegations from the NCAA. Maybe this one will be the charm.

I_medium Marc Murphy's cartoons are always on point.

I_medium Your game notes for this evening are here.

I_medium Andy Katz talks Bluegrass Rivalry.

I_medium Former Cardinal stars are focused.

I_medium The Cardinal women are also in action tonight, taking on Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. in Nashville. Here's your preview.

I_medium Kyle Kuric's annual toy drive was another huge success, and he says thanks here.

I_medium No. No. Nooooooooooooo.

There goes all that positive mojo we'd been talking about.

I_medium Eli Rogers killed this.

I_medium Rick Pitino says he doesn't get as uptight about the Kentucky game as he used to.

I_medium I always love getting actual coaches' takes on things, so I enjoyed this read from Yahoo on anonymous coaches who have faced Kentucky or Louisville breaking them down.

Opposing coach who has faced Kentucky this season: "To me, [Malik] Monk is the best shot maker in the country at the two-guard position. But then [Isaiah] Briscoe and [De'Aaron] Fox can't shoot at all. I think it's very important to guard them so they can't get the rim, which is easier said than done. Even when you play off, they just attack your shoulders. Then you've got to take away everything outside from Monk. ... Bam [Adebayo] is a big, aggressive dude and he hurt us. He's so good at sealing for dunks and at offensive rebounding. When Fox is attacking a big off the dribble and Bam is rolling to the rim, it's hard to stop him. ...  If they had a great player at the four, I don't think they would lose a game, but they don't. [Wenyen] Gabriel defends much better than [Derek] Willis, but he can't score. If they could have Willis on offense and Gabriel on defense, they'd be set, but they don't have a stud at the four, and I think that's one of their only weaknesses. ...  Pressure doesn't bother Fox or Briscoe and Dominique Hawkins handles the ball pretty well off the bench too. They will turn it over some against Louisville, but I think Fox will be able to handle pressure. ... They pitch ahead to those wings and they attack downhill so well. I've been in basketball a long time and I've faced some great transition teams. They're as good as anyone we've ever faced."

Opposing coach who has faced Louisville this season: "They're really good defensively this year just like they seem to be every year. They throw waves of 6-10, 6-11, 7-foot at you and it's almost like you can't go up with it. You've got to kick it out every time because you know they're going to either block your shot or they're going to alter it. ... They throw a lot of different looks at you defensively, but their goal is always to make you uncomfortable and turn you over. They're going to figure out a way for their defensive to create scoring opportunities for them without a doubt.  ... One of the big reasons Louisville's guards can be so aggressive on the perimeter is they have all that length behind them. A lot of times when you don't have the bigs in the back there, you can't put on as much pressure as you'd like because you're afraid of getting blown by for easy buckets. I think Louisville's bigs don't get enough credit for how much they let the guards have freedom to pressure the ball and be able to leave their man to go trap somebody. ... You've got to get those big guys off their feet because they do get a little shot-block happy. If they get one, they're going to try to get six or seven. You have to try to get them in foul trouble. If you get them in foul trouble, it would be interesting to see if they get a little less aggressive. When a guy's got three or four fouls, it kind of changes things."

I_medium We're barely over a month into the 2016-17 season, and ESPN is already saying that Louisville's next four games will define its season. That may be overstating things jusssst a bit, but the Cards are certainly about to enter the toughest stretch of their regular season.

I_medium If you want to hear from Rick Pitino just hours before the game, you'll be able to do that on this afternoon's Ramsey and Rutherford. As always, you can listen to the show here.

I_medium And finally, beat Kentucky.