Gilgeous-Alexander leads No. 16 Kentucky to rout of Louisville
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 24 points to power No. 16 Kentucky to a 90-61 victory over Louisville on Friday, the widest margin of victory in the rivalry since 1999.
“I just felt good going out there,” Alexander said. “I knew a big game was coming”
Alexander, who did not start the game, made 9-of-15 shots to lead the Wildcats, who led by as many as 32 points with eight minutes left in the game.
“That’s as good as we play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “And mainly because we finally competed and battled for an entire game.”
Kentucky’s 29-point rout came in its first outing since an 83-75 loss to UCLA on Dec. 23.
“I told them that there was an arrogance when we played UCLA unearned. We haven’t done anything yet,” Calipari said. “And the other team was playing us to prove individually, ‘I’m better than you,’ and their team collectively and their coach, ‘We are better than you.’ We didn’t fight. We just let it happen. Well, if you want to do this for a living, you’d better fight or someone else is going to fight and you’re going to be watching TV. You’d better fight for what you want.”
Freshmen P.J. Washington, Hamidou Diallo and Quade Green backed up Gilgeous-Alexander with 16, 14 and 13 points, respectively. Kentucky shot 55 percent in the second half, and 47.5 for the game.
“P.J., in my opinion, his best game of the year,” Calipari said. “A great guy for him to watch and emulate is Draymond Green. The entire time Draymond has a spirit about him that drags everybody else. See, your body language screams. It screams. And you can drag people one way or do what Draymond does and drag them the other way to get them more inspired, wanting to play. I’m just telling PJ, be that guy. Have a spirit about you.”
Louisville got 13 points from junior forward Deng Adel and 12 each from junior forward Ray Spalding and sophomore guard V.J. King.
“I think the final score speaks for itself,” Louisville interim coach David Padgett said. “They came right in to play. We just played a team that was much better than we were.”
The Cardinals shot 40.6 percent, but made only 3-of-25 3-point attempts.
Kentucky blew open the game by hitting its last five shots in the first half while Louisville missed 11 of 12. The Cardinals were also 1-of-12 from 3-point range in the first half.
“We’ve got 18 ACC games starting on Tuesday, so we have got to bounce back,” Padgett said. “If we don’t learn from this then that’s when it gets really bad. You have to learn from this.”
With the score tied 21-21, Kentucky went on a 12-0 run to grab a 33-21 advantage with 2:44 left in the half. Diallo scored seven of the 12 including the last five to give the Wildcats their biggest lead at that point.
For the half, Diallo scored 11 and Washington had 10. Louisville did not have a player in double figures scoring.
NOTES: Kentucky now leads the series between the in-state rivals 35-16, including a 19-5 record in Rupp Arena. The Wildcats are 9-2 against Louisville with John Calipari as coach ... Kentucky scores 61 percent of its baskets on two-point field goals, the second-highest mark in the country. By contrast, 21 percent come from 3-point range, which ranks 348 out of 351 Division I teams ... Louisville ranks No. 2 in the nation in blocked shots .. Louisville is one of only four schools to win 20 or more games over the last 15 seasons. The others are Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga