By Dalton Ray —
Men’s basketball entered Rupp Arena as a 6.5 underdog. They walked out of Rupp after being thumped by 29, one of the worst losses in the rivalry in 30 years.
Their six-game winning streak was snapped with a 90-61 loss against Kentucky.
“I think the final score speaks for itself,” acting coach David Padgett said.
Louisville’s two leading scorers, Deng Adel (15.6 points per game) and Quentin Snider (12.1 points per game), combined 7-for-23 from the field. As a team, the Cardinals went 3-for-25 from three.
A poor shooting night wasn’t the only problem for U of L. The Cards started off on the right track, but fell off just before halftime.
Opening in stride
In the first 12 minutes, Louisville played the game they wanted.
Louisville’s pressure kept the Wildcats at bay and forced a low shooting percentage. Offensively, the Cardinals attacked the rim with drives and entry passes in the post.
Tied at 21 with seven minutes to play in the half, Louisville held the rebounding advantage at 17-14. Additionally, they had the advantage in points in the paint with 14-8.
No Mahmoud, no Spalding, no chance
The pressing issue for Louisville coming into the game was to keep their big men Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud out of foul trouble.
In the first 12 minutes, they combined for one. Ninety seconds later, they picked up three and both were on the bench with two fouls each.
The Wildcats didn’t hesitate to pounce, going right to the rim. While they were undersized, Louisville racked up the fouls.
By halftime, UK had a 27-23 rebounding advantage, 18-16 points in the paint advantage and attempts 18 free throws to Louisville’s five.
Ending the half on a 20-6 run, Kentucky led 41-27.
Padgett acknowledged his team searching for answers when his starting front court was forced to sit.
“We had to try and weather the storm there as much as we could to get to halftime and that’s when they made their run,” Padgett said.
Off their mark
Offensively, the Cards started the second half like Padgett wanted, but Louisville couldn’t string together stops.
“We came out and scored the first two or three possessions in the second half but we just didn’t get any stops. They scored their first four of five and that was the problem,” Padgett said. “We never could get close.”
As the half went on, U of L never could get back on track. Padgett said it was one of the few times this year his team let their offense affect their defense.
“We had a low deflection total, we had five blocks, only three steals … defensively we just couldn’t get ourselves going and I think a lot of that was because our offense wasn’t really working for us,” Padgett said.
Foul trouble forced the Cardinals into using different lineups, not allowing U of L to play “their” game.
“It is frustrating because some lineups aren’t used to playing together. We got out of sync,” Adel said.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photo by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal