Kentucky men’s basketball looks to grab third straight win over the Cardinals


Kentucky freshman forward EJ Montgomery draws a shooting foul during the game against Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Kentucky won with a final score of 71-58. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Kameron Roach

It’s a top-20 showdown!

A No. 19 ranked Kentucky Wildcats team will face off against the No. 3 ranked Louisville Cardinals in a rivalry matchup Saturday, Dec. 28. The Cardinals have bounced back since Texas Tech gave them a loss on Dec. 10, giving them an overall record of 11-1. The Cats, on the other hand, have a record of 8-3 with losses to an unranked Evansville and an unranked Utah, as well as a loss to the now No. 2 team, Ohio State. 

The start of this highly anticipated rivalry began on Feb. 15, 1913. Since then, Kentucky leads the series 36–16 and holds a two-game winning streak in the competition after the Cats defeated the Cardinals last season 71-58. 

Kentucky looks to bounce back after losing two straight games in Las Vegas. Because of injuries and other factors, the starting lineup for the Wildcats has not been consistent. 

The scoring for this young Wildcat team is pretty evenly spread—they’re averaging 74.5 points a game and shooting 46.4 percent from the field. Their 3-point field goal average is at a very low percentage of 27.8 percent per game, however, they are holding teams to a rebounding margin of 7.2 rebounds per game and an assists margin of 5.5 per game. Four players are averaging double-digit points for UK while two Cardinal players are doing the same.

UofL head coach Chris Mack has a solid group of men starting for Louisville. Two of the starting five are juniors and the other three are all redshirt seniors, which could give the Cardinals a bit of an edge over the less experienced Wildcat starting lineup. The Cards currently average 76.7 points per game and are shooting 48.5 percent from the field, while all their opponents average 35 percent from the field. Louisville star junior Jordan Nwora is averaging 21 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals and is currently shooting 48 percent from the field. 

The Wildcats have seen some significant numbers from several players on the team– point guard Ashton Hagans leads Kentucky in assists, steals and field goal percentage with 48 percent from the field, 80 assists and 23 steals so far this season. Forward Nate Sestina is currently shooting the highest percentage from the arc after dropping five three-pointers against the Buckeyes.  Junior forward Nick Richards leads the team in boards and blocks with 6.9 rebounds per game along with 25 total blocks so far this season. 

The Wildcats have a bit of an edge with the game being held in Rupp Arena—a stage that will reveal what both teams are made of. Tip-off is set for 3:45 p.m and will be broadcast on CBS.