Louisville Card File: Kentucky

Before I get to breaking down U of L’s break down against the Cats, allow me to give deserving props where it is due.

To John Calipari and the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

That UK is more talented is a given. Longer. Quicker. Tougher. Better.

They’re also better coached. And not only have better talent, but also a better team. With a better game plan against its rival. And better execution of that plan.

Coming into an intense environment — though the Yum! is far from as intense as Freedom Hall — against its arch rival, the Cats played a poised, mature game. They never faltered, never lost focus, never came close to allowing Louisville back in the game, after taking charge midway through the opening half.

* * * * *

Like last season, there were no turning points in this game. (Though last year’s Cards did at least grab a lead in the second half.) I do know when the game turned.

With 13:22 to play in the 1st, U of L lead 12-9. Preston Knowles nailed a trey from the corner that would have put the Cards up 6. But for the moving pick call on Dieng, which nullified the score. Brandon Knight hit a tying three on an assist from Josh Harrellson to tie the score.

Six point turnaround.

UK seized control with 12-2 run. The Cards were never in the game again.

* * * * *

Louisville hit 11 of its first 16 shots in the second half. That’s a glossy 69%.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, at the same stopping point — 5:32 to play — UK had hit the same 11/16 in the second half. They led 66-52 at that point.

* * * * *

Of possible keys to the game contemplated before tipoff, FTs were discussed.

The Cats were +9 at the line. They hit 14 of 16.

U of L was lackluster, hitting 5/11. (No, coach, it wasn’t Van Treese’s fault. He didn’t take any.) Several of those Card misses were the front end of 1+1s.

* * * * *

The other over-considered game changer mused upon before the game: Which of the supporting cast could step up?

The obvious answer: Josh Harrellson. Career highs in points and rebounds. He made Louisville’s double-headed pivot play looked even more inept that it actually was.

Honorable mention to Darius Miller, who held the Cats together early.

* * * * *

I kept wondering why Louisville didn’t throw into the post more? Even if Jennings and Dieng played second-rate they might get Harrellson in foul trouble.

In his post game presser, The Rick says that was part of the team’s game plan, but they simply didn’t execute. Whose fault is that?

Instead, U of L, with only one player capable of dribble driving, tried to dribble drive. To no appreciable effect. Other than to pad UK’s shot blocking numbers.

* * * * *

Louisville was down 11 at the half, when Terrence Jones only had a single deuce, and that late in the half. Just another sign of Kentucky’s complete dominance of the game.

* * * * *

Three more basketball thoughts before I move on to the environment.

1. If U of L doesn’t start 5-1 in the BEast, it will never get enough traction to make the NCAAs. They must beat Seton Hall, Marquette, and St. John’s at home. Plus South Florida and Providence on the road.

If not, it’s Sayonara NCAA, Hello NIT.

2. Of all the national college basketball pundits, the one most astute is cbssportsline.com’s Gary Parrish. He hasn’t been fooled by the fool’s gold that was U of L’s 11-1 record entering the game. They never made into his Top 25+1. Which brings us to  . . .

3. . . . the Cards’ ridiculous exhibition schedule. In the name of padding the pocketbook with walkovers in the Yum!, and padding The Rick’s December record, Louisville proved nothing and gained nothing with Ws over Jackson State, Chattanooga, Marshall, Florida International, South Alabama, San Francisco, Gardiner-Webb, and Morgan State.

A road game at Western Ky, and homers with Butler and UNLV aren’t nearly enough to test your mettle before conference play. Drexel??? Period. End of argument.

* * * * *

Thoughts on the surroundings:

1. I can’t believe Kenny Payne, one of my favorite Cards of all-time, advised Rex Chapman during his recruiting visit to Louisville to go to UK. Geesh.

2. The intensity of atmosphere at the Yum!doesn’t come close to matching that at Freedom Hall. Even Scooter McCray’s impassioned plea couldn’t ratchet up the energy and noise to a level where it could affect the game.

3. For all the antipathy between Calipari and Pitino, they did have what seemed from a distance to be a genuinely cordial conversation before tip. It was more than merely perfunctory.

4. J-Bone’s interviews from the stands during timeouts are inane, asinine, etc, etc. Well meaning he may be. But, gimme a break, it’s awful. I especially like how he asks all his interviewees, “What do you think of the Yum!?”

– Seedy K

4 Comments

  1. cbcard
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    FRONT END FREE THROWS:

    Chris Smith shooting 74% was 0-1 on the front end in his 2-5.

    Jennings, also shooting over 70%, was 0-1 in his 1-3. So Harrellson wasn’t the only thing he kept missing.

    No one else shot a front end. If they had, they of course would have missed it.

  2. Wildcat
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I appreciate the objectivity and unemotional enlightenment with which Seedy’s piece was written. In an age of poisonous message boards it is a breath of fresh air if not an antidote.

  3. BirdWithTeeth
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    You don’t think the Yum is nearly as intense as Freedom Hall was? I think the lower bowl being bigger than FH gives the Yum a chance to be a better home court advantage than FH. A friend of mine said the second half against UNLV was maybe as loud as he’s ever heard an arena, although he wasn’t at the last game at FH. But if we’re measuring the Yum by that Syracuse game at FH, I think that’s not an appropriate measuring stick simply because of the magnitude of that afternoon. I expect the Yum will be rocking for Big East games, if the Cards can hopefully give the folks more to cheer for than they did against UK.

  4. Camp Taylor
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the graciousness, Seedy. Good luck to your Cards the rest of the way.

    -Camp T

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