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No. 3 Kentucky 71, Louisville 62: Cousins Avoids Ejection, Helps Lead Wildcats To Victory

Gloat at our Kentucky blog, A Sea of Blue. Grunt at our Louisville blog, Card Chronicle.

Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - DeMarcus Cousins finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds after avoiding ejection in the first minute, and led third-ranked Kentucky to a 71-62 victory over Louisville in the Battle of the Bluegrass.

Just 45 seconds into the game, Cousins appeared to shove his elbow into Jared Swopshire's head as the two wrestled for possession on the floor. However, Cousins was issued an unsportsmanlike technical foul and stayed in the game, and was critical in helping the Wildcats (15-0) stay undefeated.

Patrick Patterson and John Wall each added 17 points, and Eric Bledsoe had 12 in the victory.

Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith each had 11 points for the Cardinals (10-4), who had their five-game winning streak broken after a horrendous first half in which they made just 5-of-29 from the field.

Louisville did rally in the second half to take a one-point lead just past the midway point, but turnovers, combined with Kentucky getting hot, doomed the Cardinals. Wall scored six consecutive points to put the Wildcats back in front, and Perry Stevenson then deposited a layup to push Kentucky's advantage to 49-42 with 7 1/2 minutes to play.

Louisville scored the next three, but Kentucky pulled away again. Ramon Harris drained a three, and Patterson followed with a three-point play to make it 55-45 with 5 1/2 minutes left.

Kentucky led by 12 with just under four minutes left and had a chance to emphatically put the game away, but Patterson stuffed his fastbreak dunk attempt into the side of the rim.

Louisville turned that miss into a three from Smith, who, after a missed three by Bledsoe, sank a layup to get the Cardinals within 60-53 with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

Cousins ended the Louisville run by sinking a layup, but only after it circled the rim slowly before falling in. Cousins then had a dunk with 37.2 seconds left to make it a 68-57 game, and Kentucky held on for the win.

Before either team scored and before the game was even a minute old tensions seemed to bubble over. As Cousins and Swopshire were trying to come away with the ball, Cousins gave a quick flick of his right elbow. As whistles sounded there was some quick shoving, but nothing more serious happened and the game moved on after fouls were handed out.

However, Louisville didn't make a field goal for the first nine minutes as Kentucky raced out to a 15-3 lead. Samuels' tip-in with just under 11 minutes to go was the Cardinals' first make, but they continued to struggle.

With under six minutes left, Smith had five of seven consecutive Louisville points that got the visitors within 18-12. The Cardinals then ended the first half with five free throws to draw within 27-19 at the break.

Louisville continued to trail in the second half until Swopshire's jumper with under 13 minutes to play started a 9-0 run. Terrence Jennings made 1-of-2 from the line to cap it for a 42-41 edge.

Kentucky leads the all-time series, 27-14, and snapped a two-game losing streak against the Cardinals...Louisville shot 32.2 percent overall...Kentucky made 46.2 percent of its shots...Swopshire had 10 points for the Cardinals, while Samuels and Reginald Delk each scored nine.

- Via Sports Network.