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No. 4 Louisville outlasts Kentucky in foul-plagued rivalry rematch

Dec 29, 2012, 6:38 PM EDT

University of Louisville's Gorgui Dieng dunks the ball over top University of Kentucky's Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer during the first half of play in their NCAA basketball game a Yum! Center in Louisville Reuters

Kansas survived Ohio State in last week’s Final Four rematch, but the tables were turned in Louisville’s 80-77 triumph over their in-state rivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

Russ Smith picked up his fourth foul with over nine minutes remaining in the second half, joining Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva on the bench in similar straits. Despite the looming disqualification of Louisville’s Big Three, the Cards continued to play aggressively and survived to claim the win in the renewal of the Battle of the Bluegrass.

The fact that it came down to fouls may tip a clever reader off to the fact that it also came down to foul shots. Therein lies the rub for Calipari-coached teams, and the beat went on at the free throw line. The Wildcats shot better from the floor (48.3%) than they did from the line (47.8%). The mega-athletic Willie Cauley-Stein had a particularly awful night at the line, missing all four of his freebies.

Siva scored 19 before his fifth foul sent him permanently to the bench with :35 left, but teammates Russ Smith (21 points) and Gorgui Dieng (6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) were able to stay on the court until the final buzzer. Dieng was playing his first game back from a hand injury that held him out of the past seven games, and he was playing — for the first time in his college career — in front of his parents, who flew in from Senegal for the big rivalry game.

Kentucky got solid play from Ryan Harrow (17 points), Archie Goodwin (22 points) and Kyle Wiltjer (14). The Wildcats played more of a finesse game, however, which was often brought up short by the physical pounding laid on by the Cardinals. Russ Smith and Chane Behanan (20 points) combined for six steals, and Louisville threw several traps and screens at the younger Wildcats throughout the game. Nonetheless, Harrow upheld his end of the bargain, as pointed out by regional radio host Larry Glover:

While Kentucky is improving, the team concept has yet to completely gel, obviously. Louisville continues to struggle to score at times, but with Dieng back, they’ll stay on the road to the Final Four until someone is able to knock them off course.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor and tweets @stfhoops.

  1. cranespy - Dec 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Props to Coach Pitino who understands the game and never fails to teach his teams! Cal on the other hand is a master recruiter and is the very best at prepping his kids for careers in the NBA…..a coach and teacher though he is not! He won his first title with a group who ( for the very first time in his coaching career ) put individual goals aside. He couldn’t pull that off with Wall, Cousins, Lamb et al. He won’t win his second this year, in fact his best hope is that he stays long enough to get a second……the clock continues to tick on his time in the Bluegrass state.

  2. prov1x - Dec 29, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    three of the five fouls called on siva were invisible. still won in spite of that. good win for the cards.

  3. jjohnb5393 - Dec 29, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Clock ticking on Cal?…u serious? The clock ran out on Rick in Boston and he took the second best job in the state of KY

  4. cmart0907 - Dec 30, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Uk missed 12 free throws. If anything uk gave louisville this game. But you have too give props too Louisville .

    • joneildu - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      You can’t give a game away that you never even led. If anything, Louisville allowed UK to get back in it by benching three of their best players with foul trouble. If anything, Louisville let UK back in it by not playing their injured backup 5 and replacing their foul plagued 5 with a freshman 4. If anything, if, if if….

      Every analyst in the nation said UK needed to do the following things to win the game…

      1. Harrow has to handle the pressure, not turn it over, and play well
      2. Hit heir threes.
      3. Get the UL guards in foul trouble.

      Harrow balled out, zero turnovers, UK had maybe their best 3 point shooting night of the season, everyone outside of Mays shot over 50%, and not only did the UL guards get in fouls trouble early and have to back off the press, so did Dieng.

      And UK still lost.

  5. jthammerstix - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    To not too ^

  6. Troy Machir - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    All I know is that I would love to see these two teams play again in late March.

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