By Ricky Blair
The freshmen stole the show as the Wildcats defeated Louisville 58-50 in the Yum Center. This young group of Cats, playing in their first road game of the season, rose to the occasion, scoring 39 of the Wildcats’ 58 points. The smallest stood the tallest on this day, as the 5-foot-9 point guard Tyler Ulis played a sensational game. “That’s the best I’ve seen him play since I’ve coached him,” said UK coach John Calipari after the game. Despite repeatedly going out of the game to stop bleeding that came from a blow to the head, Ulis scored a game high 14 points and committed 0 turnovers in his 26 minutes of play. Twelve of Ulis’ points came in the second half as he continually made big play after big play including two huge three-point shots that kept the Cardinals from putting together a serious run.
While Ulis was stealing the show, he wasn’t the only freshman who shined on this day. Karl-Anthony Towns contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds, battling the Louisville big men all day long. Shooting guard Devin Booker was steady as he, like Ulis, did not commit a turnover against the Louisville defensive pressure. Booker contributed 9 points, while freshman forward Trey Lyles logged a game high 30 minutes, scoring 6 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Lyles played well in the first half, making all three of his baskets in the first 20 minutes. At one stretch in the second half, this freshman scored 22 of 23 points for Kentucky, helping the Wildcats build a double-digit lead.
For basketball purists, this was not a pretty game. Both teams’ defense led to the other teams’ offensive struggles. Kentucky, already leading the nation in defensive field goal percentage, showed the BBN why as they held Louisville to 25 percent shooting on the game. Louisville only made 15 of 58 shots and was a lowly 3 of 14 from three-point range.
In what was a very physical game, which was exhibited by the blood on Tyler Ulis’ face, it was strange that only six free throws were taken in the first half, all of those by Louisville. Kentucky shot zero free throws in the first half and did not shoot their first until 14:27 remained in the game. Truly amazing.
With the win over Louisville, the number one ranked Wildcats are now 14-0 on the season and will start SEC play at home on January 6th with a game against Ole Miss.