EditorsNote: minor edits throughout
Freshman Tyler Herro helped No. 16 Kentucky run its record to 10-2 on Saturday with a 71-58 victory over rival and host Louisville.
The Cardinals fell to 9-4, suffering their first home loss after opening the season with eight straight wins.
Herro, who said earlier in the week that fans had told him the Wildcats could lose any game except the one with Louisville, poured in 24 points to lead UK. Herro hit 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts, including 4 of 6 three-point tries. He also had five rebounds and two steals.
Keldon Johnson added 15 points for Kentucky, while Ashton Hagans had 11 points and three steals.
Jordan Nwora, Louisville’s only player averaging in double figures in scoring at 17.8 points per game, managed 17 points. But it was freshman point guard Christen Cunningham who supplied most of the offensive firepower for the Cards. Cunningham scored 20.
Jemarl Baker ignited a 15-2 run by the Wildcats with a 3-pointer midway through the first half, and by the time the run ended Kentucky led 31-17. Louisville cut the margin to eight at halftime, and got within six early in the second half before UK scored six straight to retake control.
Hagans ended any hopes of a Louisville comeback with two straight buckets after the Cards had cut the margin to nine midway through the second half. Herro dropped in a 3-point dagger with 4:59 to play to make the score 60-46 Kentucky, and Hagans later knifed through on two straight drives to the basket to make the lead 16 with 2:35 to play.
One chief concern for Louisville coach Chris Mack entering the game was Kentucky’s inside presence. The Wildcats did win the rebound battle 34-33 with PJ Washington collecting eight and Johnson seven, but the eye-popping stat was points in the paint. Kentucky scored 42 points inside to only 22 for Louisville, and that more than accounted for the final margin.
The Cats led for 36:25 of the game, while Louisville only held the lead for 1:10.
UK hit 29 for 57 from the field for 50.9 percent, including six of 20 from long range. Louisville connected on 20 of 55 from the field for 36.4 percent, with just five of 20 from the 3-point line.
Saturday marked the end of non-conference play for both teams. Kentucky opens SEC play next Saturday at Alabama. Louisville hosts Miami on Jan. 6.
—Field Level Media