UK basketball routs Louisville behind 24 from Gilgeous-Alexander


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #22 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives down the base-line during the game against Louisville Friday, December 29, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Louisville 90-61. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

In the latest chapter of the storied rivalry between UK and Louisville basketball, the Cats came away with their fifth straight home win against the Cardinals, beating interim head coach David Padgett’s team 90-61. This was the largest win for the Cats in the rivalry since 1999, when they won by 30.

The game began emphatically, as UK guard Hamidou Diallo dunked directly on UL center Anas Mahmoud to open the game, sending Rupp Arena into a frenzy. The Cats scored the first five points in the game, but UL forward Ray Spalding and his team were not to be denied. They scored the next 11 points, and would hold the lead for a significant portion of the first half.

Both teams shot extremely poorly in the first half as well, as there was a stretch in the opening period in which the teams combined to make one of 14 straight shots. UK shot 38 percent from inside the three-point line in the first half, but made half of their long-distance attempts. The Cards struggled as well, making less than 30 percent of their attempts in the first half.

The Cats and Cards went back and forth in the middle of the half, but the Cats would break it open with a 12-0 run after Louisville got into foul trouble. With over seven minutes remaining in the first half, Spalding and Mahmoud both had multiple fouls, which limited the shot-blocking ability of the Cards.

UK forward P.J. Washington created problems for UL all game, scoring 16 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and swatting a shot away. Backup point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also had a standout game, scoring a career-high 24 points, dishing out four assists and stealing the ball three times.

The Cats led by 14 at the half, and picked up where they left off after the break. Five minutes into the second half, the Cats had extended their lead by seven more points as Mahmoud, the nation’s second leading shot-blocker, picked up his fourth foul.

UK kept coasting the rest of the game, outscoring Louisville 49-34 in the second half and forcing Mahmoud to foul out with over eight minutes to go in the game.

The Cats emphatically took the win in this year’s rivalry game, and will open conference play at home against Georgia in two days, on Dec. 31 at 6 p.m.