Cats take annual rivalry game against Louisville, 71-58


Tyler Herro celebrates after scoring a three pointer. University of Kentucky men’s basketball team played University of Louisville at the KFC Yum Center on Saturday, December 29, 2018, in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff.

The annual rivalry game between Kentucky’s and Louisville’s men’s basketball team ended in another physical affair as the reigning champion of the matchup, Kentucky, came away with a 71-58 win.

UK guard Tyler Herro showed out for the Cats, scoring a game-high 24 points on 10-13 shooting. He had 14 points before halftime, burning the UL defense from deep. Fellow guard Keldon Johnson gave his fair share on the offense, adding 15 points to the total, contributing to the win.

Though Herro and Johnson put in a lot as far as scoring, the game was largely dictated by the Cats that didn’t pour on the points. Point guard Ashton Hagans had 11 points, two rebounds and three steals and his defensive presence was felt by the Cards. Their leading scorer, Christen Cunningham, scored his first ten points with Hagans on the bench.

Forward PJ Washington also put in a lot for the Cats without doing much scoring. He finished with only five points, but notched four blocks, three assists and eight rebounds. During one of UK’s 8-0 stretches, he completed an interior pass to EJ Montgomery for an easy basket, as well as a lob to Johnson.

After the game went back-and-forth for the first ten minutes, Herro caught fire to send the Cats on a 9-0 run that gave the Cats their first double-digit lead of the game. The lead would be cut down to single digits as the Louisville defense tightened up, sending the Cats on a 4:30 stretch without any points. The lead was cut down to eight at the halftime buzzer as Herro missed a three and Nwora threw down a dunk at the buzzer.

The Cards weren’t without their playmakers, either. After the Cats won the rebounding battle in the first half, center Malik Williams grabbed several offensive boards in the second to give the Cats trouble on the glass.

The game was closed out in the last five minutes, as Hagans hit two straight layups to stretch UK’s lead to 16 with less than two minutes remaining. New Louisville head coach Chris Mack lost his first try at the annual rivalry game, and will have to take another shot at the Cats next year, should the two teams not meet in the NCAA Tournament.

UK now leads the all-time series 36-16 and have won two straight against the Cards.