Cats topple Cards in Mack’s Battle for the Bluegrass debut

Cats topple Cards in Mack’s Battle for the Bluegrass debut
Coaches Chris Mack and John Calipari shake hands before Saturday's game (Source: Kendrick Haskins/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A big effort by Tyler Herro told the story of Kentucky’s offense, as the Cards came up short, 71-58 in Chris Mack’s first Louisville-Kentucky game.

Herro had 24 points in the game to lead all scorers. He shot 10-13 from the field, including 4-6 from three. Herro averaged 12.4 points per game on the season before the UofL matchup.

The freshman had 12 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, including a three-pointer with just under seven minutes left to extend Kentucky’s lead to 12, 29-17. He was named the MVP of the game.

“He played well,” Calipari said. “In a game like this, in this environment, there was a lot of good stuff that came out of this.”

His three-pointer with five minutes remaining in the game was a dagger, putting the Cats securely ahead 60-46.

“We’re just getting better and better,” Calipari said. "We win or we learn, everyone can get mad that I said that again.

The Cardinals offense struggled, marking its worst field-goal percentage on the season. The 36.4 (20-55) mark replaced a 37.7 percent effort in Louisville’s loss against Marquette.

Louisville didn’t make a three-pointer in the second half until there were 37 seconds left.

Christen Cunningham, who’d missed the Cardinals previous game due to a concussion, provided an offensive bright spot for UofL. Cunningham finished with 20 points on 8-14 shooting.

Saturday afternoon’s game also included an emotional tribute to fallen LMPD officer Deidre Mengedoht.

The Cats led by as many as 16 in the second half, thanks in large part to 10 points from Ashton Hagans.

The freshman trio of Hagans, Herro and Keldon Johnson scored a combined 50 points.

“This is becoming a player-driven team,” Calipari said. “They’re not quite empowered yet because they don’t hold each other accountable enough yet. But practice is player-driven. It’s not me now.”

Nwora finished with 17 points on 7-17 shooting, and seven rebounds.

“Hopefully this becomes a lesson we can learn from,” Mack said. "We need to be more patient, I haven’t done a good enough job for us to figure out how to play deeper in the shot clock.

Both teams now head into conference play. Kentucky moves on to play Alabama on Saturday, January 5. Louisville moves on to play Miami on Sunday, January 6.

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