UK basketball will face new-look Cards for the first time Friday


Sophomore Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates with a teammate after the game on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won the game 73-70.

Two major in-state rivals, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, are set to play basketball this Friday in Rupp Arena. For the first time in 16 years, the rivalry will take place without the presence of UofL head coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino was removed from his position after the FBI investigation on the illegal recruiting methods in college basketball, where it was uncovered that the FBI possessed information on illegal actions possibly taken by the Cards in recruiting a player over the previous season.

READ: Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich placed on administrative leave

Taking over Pitino’s position, interim head coach David Padgett has been a member of the Louisville staff for three years, and was also a three-year starter for the Cards. Padgett has a 10-2 record this season, his two losses coming from Purdue and Seton Hall.

Ranked 16th in the nation, the Cats have won seven of their last eight games and are 9-2 on the season. Those two losses come from Kansas and their most recent game against UCLA in an 83-75 loss at the CBS Classic in New Orleans.

Read: UK looking to improve defense and energy after losing to UCLA

Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo led Kentucky’s scoring vs. UCLA with 18 points, and he added four rebounds.

UK’s leading scorer is forward Kevin Knox, who is averaging 15.7 points per game. In the Cats’ matchup against UCLA, Knox earned 15 points and five rebounds.

Louisville will be coming off a 74-56 victory against Grand Canyon, which was the team’s sixth straight win, in which junior forward Ray Spalding totaled a career-high 21 points and 16 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season.

The Cards are ranked second in the nation in blocked shots with 8.4 per game. Senior center Anas Mahmoud contributes greatly to that statistic, averaging 4.3 blocks per game, which ranks second in the nation.

Kentucky has won eight of the last 10 meetings with Louisville and leads the all-time series 34-16.

However, the Cards walked away with a 73-70 victory in the two teams’ last matchup at the KFC Yum! Center.

The two squads are set to play at 1 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 29.