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Louisville handled by Kentucky, 86-63

The Cats have their first win over the Cards since before the start of the pandemic.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 31 Louisville at Kentucky Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Louisville fell behind big early and stayed behind by a healthy margin for most of the afternoon in an 86-63 loss at arch-rival Kentucky on Saturday.

The good news? Well, it’s certainly been worse for the Cardinals so far in 2022-23.

After a lifeless performance in the game’s opening minutes resulted in an 18-4 Kentucky lead, Louisville twice battled back to get within 8 points of their hosts. But self-inflicted wounds at those key moments kept the Cardinals from ever putting any legitimate fear into the Rupp Arena faithful.

The story of the game was the offensive glass, where Kentucky earned a whopping 15 second chance opportunities. Eight of those came from reigning national Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, who finished the afternoon with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Jacob Toppin, who was awarded a continent’s worth of free space from the Cardinal defense that was focused on Tshiebwe, also scored 24 points to go along with seven rebounds.

Louisville was once again led by El Ellis, who finished with 23 points and also produced four steals. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.

It wasn’t really competitive, but it also wasn’t as bad as our first fears, AND ... the team has now covered the spread in back-to-back games. Baby steps.

Congrats to Kentucky on their first men’s basketball victory over Louisville since before the start of the pandemic. Maybe this can get back to being something of a rivalry now.