USA TODAY Sports
The experienced Louisville backcourt was able to fend of a late Wildcat charge.
After closing a 17-point deficit to just two with 5:30 remaining in the second half, Kentucky was unable to complete the comeback against in-state rival Louisville. The Cardinals overcame foul trouble and an offensive flurry from the Wildcats to pull out a 80-77 victory. Louisville guard Russ Smith had 21 points and seemed to be everywhere on the floor despite spending much of the second half with four fouls.
A 27-12 run for the Wildcats over seven minutes in the second half brought the Wildcats to within two, but the experienced Louisville backcourt kept Kentucky at bay. Point guard Peyton Siva, who was part of the Cardinals' foul woes, scored 19, including hitting two of four from downtown. Chane Behanan continued his stat-stuffing ways with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Kyle Wiltjer hit four three-pointers for Kentucky, three during the team's improbable comeback attempt. Guard Archie Goodwin led all Wildcats in points with 22, and backcourt mate Ryan Harrow added 17. Free-throw shooting has been a problem all season for a young Kentucky team, hitting worse than 65 percent of their shots coming into this game. The Wildcats went 11 of 23, allowing Louisville to hang on to its late lead.
Rick Pitino's Louisville squad, now 12-1, begins Big East play against Providence Jan. 2. John Calipari's Wildcats fall to 8-4, and play one final non-conference game against Eastern Michigan before beginning SEC play Jan. 10.