No. 10 Louisville has 14 players on this year’s roster. Only four out of the fourteen are from within the state of Kentucky and only two, Raymond Spalding (Trinity) and Quentin Snider (Ballard), are from Louisville. Too say that tonight’s game against No. 6 Kentucky is just another game to them would be an understatement.
A crowd of 22,783 saw Snider and the Cardinals beat the Wildcats in a thrilling game 73 – 70.
Snider was the star of stars tonight. After a brilliant high school career for Ballard, Snider had yet to beat Kentucky in his first two years at Louisville. He poured in a game-high 22 points and 5 assists. His aggressiveness was huge in the victory. “Yeah, I just think he kept attacking the rim, attacking the rim, and that was good and obviously, he made shots,” said Rick Pitino. “We had to withstand some foul trouble, but so did they. Quentin (Quentin Snyder) played a big-time game.”
Snider knew what this game meant not only to him, but the fans as well. “This was pretty big,” said Snider. He even called this a “revenge” game after his performance in last season’s loss to Kentucky.
The game started out as if we were going to see a high scoring affair. Kentucky led 17 – 14 after the first media timeout with 13:52 remaining. De’Aaron Fox was using his speed to put the Cats in position for easy baskets early on as U of L has a hard time getting back on defense to stop him. However, the Cards’ offense, which has struggled at times this season, was efficient early on in keeping up with talented Wildcats.
The first half was led by the point guards with Fox scoring 14 and Snider 13 as U of K led 40 – 39 at the half.
The second half was a back-and-forth heavyweight match that would have made Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali proud. Kentucky led 57 – 55 when Deng Adel was fouled while grabbing an offensive rebound. Adel made both free throws to tie the game. Malik Monk, fresh off a 47 point outing against North Carolina, missed a jumper and Donovan Mitchell grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup to put Louisville ahead for good 59 – 57. Adel finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Monk scored 16 for the Cats, but struggled with his shot, hitting only 1 of his 9 threes. Pitino explained his strategy on Monk, “We shadowed him. We tried to deny him. Every time he came off a screen we said let’s just keep the ball out of his hands and in somebody else’s. I felt he was going to drive a little bit more tonight because guys when they come off a 47-point game know that people are going to get in his jock. So, we tried to play that as well.”
With Louisville leading 67 – 62 with under three minutes remaining, Bam Adebayo missed three of four free throws. U of K struggled at the line going 19 – 29.
A Snider layup put U of L in control 69 – 63 with 1:46 left, but as is with most rivalry games, the game is never over until the horn sounds. Fox’s three-point play after being fouled by Snider pulled U of K to within three with 58 seconds left. The Cats stopped the Cards and then a Mangok Mathiang foul put Derek Willis on the line with 42 seconds left. Willis, a 90 percent free throw shooter, missed the first and hit the second to get the Cats to within two.
An exciting ending was in store for the final 42 seconds. It did not disappoint. Mitchell missed an off balance jumper, but Jaylen Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in for a four point lead. Monk, who had not hit a three all night, then hit a contested three to make it a one point U of L lead. After a Kentucky timeout, Mitchell was fouled and calmly went to the line and hit both free throws.
After a U of L timeout, U of K had one more chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. Everyone knew who was taking the shot, but as was the case for most of the night, Monk’s shot was off sending the Louisville faithful in to a state of euphoria.
The win puts the Cards at 11 – 1 on the season while the Cats fell to 10 – 2. U of L is off until Virginia comes in to the Yum Center for another great matchup next Wednesday.
* The win was U of L’s first against U of K since their championship season in 2013.
* Lamar Jackson was honored at halftime for winning the Heisman Trophy.
* Tom Jackson, Russ Smith, Terry Rozier, were among the notable guests in attendance.