ACC Basketball Running Diary: UK Downs Louisville 58-50, Game Underwhelms

OK, so we pick this up at the 13 minute mark with Kentucky leading 10-6 (because of Georgetown and Indiana refusing to lose, and going into OT). Montrezl Harrell leading the way with four points and two rebounds.

10:59 1st- Finally a bucket, as Wayne Blackshear of Louisville rattles around a three to cut the lead to one. Then immediately on the next possession down ‘Trez destroys a Willie Cauley-Stein offering that wasn’t quite as devastating at the one the ‘Brow put on Manu Ginobili the other day….we go to the under 12 timeout with Louisville down by 1 but looking formidable at home.

Jay Bilas and Dan Shulman is one of the better announcing teams we’ll get. But the fact that they are compelled to show pictures of Aubrey (aka Drake) and Ashley Judd whilst getting into whose team has the “superest” fans is below them. BTW, Louisville has Jennifer Lawrence who totally mitigates that kid from DeGrassi Junior High.

10:17 1st- Coach Cal with some classic whining over a loose ball call that went the Cards’ way. That’s what they pay you untold millions for Cal, give em their money’s worth!

9:41 1st- Graphic says UK has missed their last six. Along with two turnovers. That would make several of their players a FINE fit for the NBA tank squads next year. Kentucky scores to make it 12-9.

8:58 1st- Terry Rozier of Louisville is fouled hard on a drive by Willie Cauley-Stein (WCS from here forward). Rozier converts both, to trim the lead to 12-11. He is averaging 23.3 over his last four.

8:30 1st- Oh no Wayne, you want that bunny back!…..blew an easy layup badly that would have put Louisville in front.

7:25 1st- Blackshear splits the Kentucky redwoods to get a decent look at a runner out of the under 8 timeout. Pitino yanks him, and rightfully so, for going one on everyone. Louisville has no rhythm on offense.

6:52 1st- But the Cards do get it done on D. Another KY turnover leads to a Rozier jumper from the FT line. Louisville leads at 13-12, first lead of the game.

Bilas is right. Louisville getting far more open looks than UK usually allows, yet not capitalizing.

5:30 1st- Another great rebound, outlet, secondary pass to an open Chris Jones who missed the three. Kentucky promptly turns it into an Aaron Harrison three and we go to a quick Louisville timeout with the possession arrow pointing KY’s way, as they lead 15-13.

During this timeout I pondered if the food in the Yum Center is as disgusting as the products they turn out to the public through their regular outlets. Maybe being at ground zero it tastes better?? Nahhhhhh.

4:41 1st- You want a rivalry? Gotta have some blood amirite? Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis has a tricky cut on the corner of the eye, courtesy of guarding Louisville’s Chris Jones too closely and receiving an elbow while ripping through. He’ll need attention in the back of the house.

4:17 1st- Without the Harrison twins, a good 2-3 zone would beat the ‘Cats in March. They fumble the ball too much in their interior passing.

4:03 1st- Blackshear with a nice shot fake and long mid-range jumper. Why Louisville insists upon keeping Harrell as the hub at the top of the key is beyond me. Yes, it has worked well enough so far, but it is denying him his best looks at the hoop. Perhaps Coach Pitino is trying to draw at least one (maybe two) bigs’ attention to him so his other players can attack the goal a little easier. I would say that, but I’ve been watching Louisville all year. They aren’t changing much today.

3:40 1st- UK is up 17-15 after the under four minute TV TO. Jennifer Lawrence waves at us all. She’s obviously the best fan in the building. Undisputed.

3:19 1st- How does Harrell get the inbounds pass under the basket Coach Cal? Don’t we drill inbounds plays in practice? He’s fouled, makes the second of two. The Cards’ lack of three-pt shooting and consistency at the line may well prove the difference today. They are winning the physical battle to this point, yet trail 17-16.

2:42 1st- Mangok Mathiang just burnt the UK possession arrow by capping a UK big man’s shot.

2:20 1st- Louisville with numbers, Jones short-arms a lob to Harrell who should have had a resounding oop to retake the lead, instead they turn it back over to KY. Louisville is not going to like this film session tomorrow.

1:37 1st- With all the dunkers on the floor, we have our first by Kentucky’s Marcus Lee to extend the Cats lead to three.

47.6 1st- Cauley-Stein with a kind of BS push on Jones who changed pace. With Louisville in the bonus Jones is finally on the board with his first FT. He is laying an egg of a game thus far, with his shooting struggles continuing. His other heralded skill (on ball D) is somewhat diluted by the Harrison twins and the poised KY backcourt.

1.1 1st- And Jones is now 0-6 from the floor. Either he or Rozier needs to step it up from the outside or Harrell and Blackshear will find every shot challenged the entire second half. I’d have expected Pitino to have some extra wrinkles for KY. Not a lot has changed from the other game plans I’ve seen them utilizing. Kentucky enters the half leading 22-18.

WOWWWWW….revealing interview with Calipari on the way to the break, saying that the Cards are trying to take the body and that UK isn’t going to bow down to it. Does he think the refs are lingering nearby or watching this tripe on a monitor? Is this going to get him his calls in the 2nd half? If Calipari were a high-priced lawyer, he’d be Rusty Hardin. Look at the attached client list and charges he’s defended. Its an alternate universe.

This game at the half has UK at 37% on 10-27, and U of L at 6-for-28 and 21%. This is what #1 vs #4 looks like this year? KenPom wasn’t wrong when he was discussing how offensive pace factor was down, and therefore offense as a whole.


Couple key stats: 18 points is lowest first half output by U of L, and the 1 assist as a team is an absolute killer. This may be the only game that the Cards’ get out-rebounded also as they are -9 to start the half.

19:41 2nd-  Montrezl Harrell tried the sweeping Magic Johnson baby hook from game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals. It didn’t pan out. Probably needs a bit of work.

18:29 2nd-  Harrell and Cauley Stein got tied up back deep in the KY end, WCS won the battle and dunked as Harrell watched from the baseline seats. KY with their largest lead at 24-18.

18:02 2nd- Reviewing a dive by Chris Jones on the Cards. Big Dakari Johnson ripped a rebound out of three Cards’ hands and Jones dove like Sonny Liston in that 2nd Ali fight.

17:52 2nd- Ulis knocks down a floater in the painted area…..UK up 26-18.

17:42 2nd- Jones had no chance of going up strong with that shot, yet threw himself into WCS and drew his second foul on him.  When he’s not gunning indiscriminately, Jones is a heady player.

17:26 2nd-  Jones clearly drank all three pouches in his Gatorade sequence at the half, he came out and beat everyone end to end to convert a layup. Louisville trails 26-22.

16:45 2nd-  If it ain’t a dunk, Harrell still needs another year lest he not turn into a pro like Chris Wilcox (formerly of MD 2002 title team) and turns into a Ben Wallace/Larry Johnson hybrid instead. Another missed hook. He cannot navigate the UK front line effectively right now.

16:30 2nd-  The problem with too many bigs, is eventually some of them think they can shoot. Calipari needs to stem that tide.

16:10 2nd-  Blackshear an off-balance elbow two. That is a shot you love to make, but not one a coach loves you to take, especially with a hand in the face. KY lead has been trimmed to 26-24.

After the under 16 minute timeout the announcers show a montage and talk about how you have to be tough to play in this game….no, not really you just need to call Chris Jones for mugging and give him 3-to-5 years hard labor for the beating he’s putting on anyone with the ball. I know that sounds “jokey”, but the fact is, he’s been involved in every single one of these elbow swinging melees, the man isn’t afraid of taking one to the chops.

15:29 2nd-  UK has still not attempted a FT, U of L only seven. This game is the first college basketball game to go so unofficiated since James Naismith oversaw the 1-0 peach bucket game that started it all.


14:44 2nd- UK’s Karl Towns with a nice and-one to extend the UK lead to 29-24. That was their first make from the FT line.

More alarming: Andrew Harrison has no points and five turnovers. The backcourts are being brutal to each other today.

14:04 2nd- Rozier with another long mid-range jumper for Louisville, and this is about the only way they are getting anything more than FTs. The shot spray chart for this is going to look like a Monet painting (sue me, I’m no art major, I’m sure there’s better examples, maybe we’ll call it Jackson Pollock instead)

Montrezl Harrell at the 13:20 mark with just 5 pts and 5 rebounds. C’mon ‘Trez don’t you know you’re my co-front runner with Jerian Grant for ACC POTY?!!!!! Help me out here bruh! He hasn’t scored in over half the game! Get him the ball in position to score Pitino!

13:13 2nd- My favorite time on the clock. Anything can happen. But a push-off on Mathiang sends things the other way. Kentucky leading by five, 31-26.

12:47 2nd- One of the biggest tall-man scrums I’ve seen since the 1993 Bulls-Knicks Conference Finals with Charles Smith missing about 18 shots that might have vanquished Jordan and Pippen. Impressive height on both these clubs. KY converts one of two FTs for getting a whistle for merely being taller.

12:28 2nd- Karl Towns and Chinanu Onuaku of Louisville both go down like Balboa and Creed at the end of Rocky II. Who will get off the canvas by the 10 count? Ball remains with U of L at 32-26.

12:06 2nd- Terry Rozier reminds me of a shorter Eric Bledsoe (NBA Suns) in that he will go in among the trees and yank boards out of there. With all the height around, it is nothing short of impressive.

11:52 2nd-  There he is! Harrell on the block with just one drop step to make the basket. This is what Louisville needs in droves. 32-28 as we enter the under 12 TV TO.

11:14 2nd-  Louisville is 11-47 from the field. And I was LOOKING FORWARD to this!

10:30 2nd-  Huge corner three by Toto Ulis to extend UK lead to 7.

10:13 2nd- A goaltending call on a Harrell offering and a 4th foul on WCS of KY. This could be U of L’s chance to make a move. Harrell shorts the FT though and we have a 35-30 game.

9:47 2nd- What should have been a travel call on one of the Harrisons, Blackshear is called for the foul. Weak call. Louisville came up with a loose ball and got trapped in the corner and Pitino used another TO. UK and Coach Cal have two extras at their disposal and the possession arrow.

9:18 2nd- I felt bad for Blackshear, a beautiful spin move like that deserves the shot to drop. He’s had a rough luck night.

8:48 2nd- Andrew Harrison with his sixth turnover. To still be leading with that stat holding you back is a testament to the KY defense. Blackshear knocks down the ensuing free throws, the lead is now just three, 35-32. Kentucky has already exceeded its season average in turnovers by six with plenty of high-leverage ball to play.

8:05 2nd- Kentucky’s depth allows them to defend way past half-court extended and it forces the Louisville bigs to help a bit on the perimeter, and that is just not their strong suit right now. Louisville has two heat-check guards, a smooth swingman and a couple of front-line monsters. They are the more typically constructed team. This Kentucky team is a team full of Marcus Cambys, stick men who grab boards and protect the rim. It is going to take some hot shooting from someone to take them down. Perhaps a BYU-Kentucky game should be a selection committee idea?! BYU has shooters that hit from half-court.

7:41 2nd- Rozier hits two FTs to cut the KY lead to 39-34. Things still too difficult offensively for U of L.

7:30 2nd- Tyler Ulis hit a huge three on a kick-out from Harrison to extend the UK lead to 42-34. And all this without Cauley-Stein, still on the bench with four fouls.  U of L still with just one assist on the game.

6:41 2nd- KY up 43-34 and pulling the ball out, going to go as “four-corners” as possible here. Lulled U of L to sleep there with that got an easy bucket, the #1 team in the land is beating the #4 team in the land on the road in a rivalry game by 11. Discouraging.

That’ll teach teams to make Ulis “bleed his own blood” won’t it? Normally averages 5 ppg, today he’s at 12 and proceedings are still underway.

6:05 2nd-  Blackshear knocks down a pair of FTs….game is at 45-36. Louisville ramping up their pressure to 3/4 court,

5:35 2nd- Of all the KY big men, Karl Anthony-Towns has the most polished post game offensively. If he gets you on his back he will use his soft touch and find that square every time. UK 47-38.

4:35 2nd- That probably did it. Andrew Harrison hit a step back NBA three to extend the UK lead to 50-38. His first bucket of the game couldn’t have come at a better time.

Bilas gushing over Ulis during a TV timeout. As well he should, Ulis’s 12 pts make up the margin to this point.

4:04 2nd- It appears that we have reached that interminable period of time wherein we walk from end-to-end to conduct a FT shooting contest. Whoever makes the most gets to take home the turkey!

2:50 2nd- UK pulled down like five offensive rebounds and didn’t convert. If UK’s D is #1 then U of L’s is certainly 2nd.

2:16 2nd-  NOW Chris Jones decides to connect from three….U of L’s 2nd of the game. That area really is going to cause them a late-season heartbreak if they can’t find some way to trim back poor shot selection, or find another sharp-shooter to sub in to games. UK still up 50-42.

1:38 2nd-  Towns saves a long rebound for KY, then throws it to U of L. Blackshear is then very stupidly fouled on a 3 pt shot from the left hash. Devin Booker with perhaps the biggest boner of the game (and I don’t mean that as a compliment)….but Blackshear makes just 1-of-3, an absolute killer at the juncture! This game was winnable for U of L, I am not at all impressed with their preparation, or whatever semblance of an offensive game plan they devised. UK 50-43.

1:29 2nd-  UK only team with a TO left, very odd for good coaches to have so few in the pocket at this point. But they’ve wasted them on possession tie-ups and other unavoidable circumstances.

1:01 2nd-  The much overused “DAGGER!” as Aaron Harrison extends the lead to 10 at 53-43. The best dagger still belongs to this guy, and yes I am biased towards the local feed up here in DC:

45.7 2nd- The FT march begins after a made Jones Louisville layup. 53-45.

0:00 2nd-  The FT march ends, with UK winners at 58-50. Bilas and Shulman discuss potential suitors for UK come March, and all can agree that it will take Villanova 1985-level perfection to score effectively against this UK team.

Louisville has some things to work on, and they have the team to put it together with the right tourney draw. I fully expect them to be a 1 or 2 seed, but as of now KY is throwing looks at teams that they just have no answer for. They have a little of everything in the cupboard.

Team leaders: Ulis for KY with 14 points. And Terry Rozier with 15 pts and 8 rebounds! He was all over the place.

One has to wonder with Louisville just playing seven guys if that was enough to combat the UK depth. I question the lack of minutes for seven-footer Anas Mahmoud who has the wingspan and fouls to give against a team like UK. He didn’t even get his warm-ups off.

Other Notable Stats Before We Wrap

  • Kentucky won the rebounding battle 46-33
  • Three pointers might have made up the final margin of victory, with KY converting 6-of-14, and U-of-L just 3-of-14. That’s nine points right there.
  • KY turned it over 18 times to Louisville’s 9. How you lose by eight by being gifted up to potentially 18 to 27 points on turnovers is something Pitino will need to look hard at. Calipari for that matter too, though it’s unlikely he’ll have those kind of difficulties going forward in that SEC schedule ahead.
  • Bottom line shooting 15-for-58 won’t get you many wins vs anybody. And the fact that it came in their home confines is alarming for Louisville fans. But again, they won’t face a team this tough again until maybe Duke or Notre Dame.

Hope you enjoyed “watching” the game along with me. I’ll be back with more ACC basketball coverage tomorrow with a team grade. And then on Monday with the weekend roundup.

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