The start of a new era of the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry looked an awfully lot like the old for the Cardinals on Saturday.
U of L gave an out of character effort and trailed nearly from start to finish in a 71-58 loss to the 16th-ranked Wildcats.
In a performance that was almost too predictable, UK freshman Tyler Herro broke out of a season-long shooting slump to score a career-high 24 points. Herro, who entered Saturday’s game shooting 29.7 percent from three, was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and 10-of-13 from the field.
Another Kentucky freshman, point guard Ashton Hagans, also posted a career-high with 11 points to go along with three assists and three steals. Keldon Johnson, yet another freshman, chipped in 15 points.
For Louisville, untimely turnovers and outside shooting woes doomed any chance they had of avoiding their 10th loss to Kentucky in 12 tries. The team was just 1-of-11 from three in the second half, and just 5-of-20 from beyond the arc overall. They didn’t fare any better in the paint, where they were outscored by the Wildcats 38-20.
The lone bright spot for the team was point guard Christen Cunningham who scored a career-high 20 points and dished out four of Louisville’s seven assists. Jordan Nwora scored 17 points, but it took him 17 shot attempts to get there.
I don’t know what else to say other than this looked eerily similar to the majority of Battle of the Bluegrass games we’ve seen over the past decade. Louisville appeared uncomfortable with the intensity, got beaten up on the boards and to loose balls, was easily rattled by adversity, and seemed to completely abandon its game plan and the things that had worked for them all season long the second one or two things went poorly. It’s always disappointing to see a performance like that, but it’s especially disappointing when it comes from a group that had been so mentally tough up to this point.
Louisville now heads into what should be yet another grueling ACC season with a solid enough non-conference resume. Its four losses all came at the hands of top 25 opponents, and its wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall should shine from now all the way up until Selection Sunday.
Kentucky was the better team today. It sucks. It always sucks. But all you can do is lick your wounds, tip your cap, and then get ready for what figures to be a fun 2019.
Here’s the final box score from Saturday: