KENTUCKY vs. LOUISVILLE
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena (23,000) Lexington, KY.
Record: 9-3, 0-0 in SEC
Rankings: No. 18 (AP)/No. 18 (Coaches)
Last Game: Defeated Belmont, 90-83
Head Coach: John Calipari
Overall On-Court Record: 577-169 (.773)
at UK: 132-29 (.820)
Last Five Games: 3-2
Calipari vs. Louisville: 10-6
All-Time Series: UK leads 30-15
Record: 11-1, 0-0 in American
Rankings: No. 6 (AP)/No. 4 (Coaches)
Last Game: Defeated FIU, 85-56
Head Coach: Rick Pitino
Overall On-Court Record: 675-240 (.738)
at Louisville: 321-112 (.741)
Last Five Games: 5-0
Pitino vs. Kentucky: 5-8
Last Meeting: Louisville, 80-77, Dec. 29, 2012
SCOUTING THE CATS & CARDS:
Like Kentucky, Louisville is seeking a “signature win” on Saturday in an effort to start building momentum heading into conference play, and perhaps more importantly, to leave a lasting impression on those who will eventually seed this year’s tournament. The Cards are 11-1, but have played a highly-scrutinized schedule that currently ranks 319 out of 351 teams in the Sagarin ratings system. Louisville lost decisively to North Carolina (93-84) in its only matchup against an opponent ranked in the Top 50. That’s a common opponent for both teams as the Cats also fell to the Tar Heels 82-77 in Chapel Hill. To the Cards’ credit, however, they have thoroughly taken care of business in their other 11 games.
Four UofL players average in double-figures, led by All-American senior guard Russ Smith at 16.8 points per game. New backcourt mate Chris Jones is next at 13.5 points per game. That duo, which has accounted for 41 of the Cards’ 99 3-pointers this season, figures to be the focus of UK’s defensive gameplan, but rebounding should also be a key factor in this matchup. Kentucky has a big size advantage on paper, but the Cats will have to match the energy and physical play of UofL forwards Montrezl Harrell (12.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Chane Behanan (8.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) around the basket.
Look for Louisville coach Rick Pitino to aggressively trap UK freshman forward Julius Randle out of some matchup zone looks that could challenge the young Cats’ decision-making. The Cards are No. 1 nationally in turnover margin (+9.4) and generate 23 points per game off opponents’ miscues. The Cats must take care of the ball in order to come away with their first win against a ranked opponent this season.
ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:
The Cats are 20-2 all-time in games that are played on December 28. The last time Kentucky played on this date was an 86-64 win over Lamar in 2011 led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with 18 points and Anthony Davis with 10 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. A memorable December 28 matchup between UK and UofL came in 1991 when John Pelphrey and Jamal Mashburn scored 26 and 25 points, respectively, in the No. 17 Cats’ 103-89 win over the No. 21 Cards in front of a crowd of 24,295 at Rupp Arena.
• Kentucky and Louisville are the last two national champions in men’s college basketball. The Wildcats won the 2012 title, while the Cardinals won the 2013 crown. The schools have combined for 11 NCAA championships in their history.
• After a 24-year absence, the two teams resumed playing annually in the 1983-84 season. Since that time, UK has won 20 of the 31 regular-season matchups.
• Kentucky freshman Julius Randle has scored in double-figures in all 12 games this season. He’s the first UK player to log 12 or more consecutive games in double-digits since Brandon Knight turned the trick 28 times from Nov. 30, 2010, through March 13, 2011.
• Julius Randle also has nine double-doubles this season, tied for the most of any player in college basketball.
• UK sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein has posted 50 blocks on the season, which is just two shy of Anthony Davis’ 52 through the same number of games during his record-breaking season in 2012.
• Current UK assistant coach Kenny Payne played his college basketball at Louisville. A four-year letterman at Uof L from 1985-89, he helped lead the Cardinals to the 1986 national championship.
• The officiating crew of Tony Greene, Mark Whitehead, Doug Sirmons will call Saturday’s game.