Bluegrass showdown: Cards hold off Cats, 62-59

Bluegrass showdown: Cards hold off Cats, 62-59
Cards' backcourt helps them top rival Kentucky (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) -In a rivalry recently dominated by Kentucky, Louisville held off the Wildcats, 62-59 on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cards’ backcourt proved to be a major factor as David Johnson and Carlik Jones combined for 37 points. Johnson contributed 17 points while teammate Carlik Jones tallied a game-high 20.

Louisville, which led at halftime, 28-27, pulled out to a five point advantage when Jones connected on a bucket with under six minutes to play. The home team led the Wildcats, 52-47.

UK would rally, sparked by Davion Mintz who knocked down a pair of three pointers, the second of which pulled the Cats to within 56-52 with 4:38 to play. Mintz led Kentucky with 19 points. With 3:28 to go, Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson scored on a follow -up dunk and the Cats trailed by a point, 57-56.

Next it was Jones to the rescue for Louisville. His jumper put the Cards back on top by three, 59-56. With 2:34 to go, Kentucky’s Brandon Boston cashed in on pair of free throws and Louisville’s lead was 59-58.

With :18 left, the Cards’ Dre Davis hit one of two free throws to give U of L a 60-59 lead. The Cats set up a play for Olivier Sarr, but he missed a wing jumper at the :06 mark.

The Wildcats were forced to foul after the miss, and Louisville’s Jones hit both free throws . Down three, UK had one last chance but Brandon Boston’s long three point attempt was off target at the buzzer.

While there was plenty of excitement in those closing minutes, the showdown was far from perfect as both teams lacked execution at times on both ends of the court.

“Not many times that you can not play very well and beat Kentucky, but I thought that’s what happened today’, said U of L head coach Chris Mack . " We didn’t play great and Kentucky had a lot to do with it, they’re really athletic and long. "

“Let me just say this again, losing stinks. We had our chance. We had some breakdowns,” said UK head coach John Calipari. “When you are this kind of team, you cannot afford to have a mental lapse on two or three plays in a row.  I am proud of the guys. We had our chances. We missed some layups, some free throws but we fought.

The Cards improved to 6-1 while UK dropped it’s sixth straight, falling to 1-6.

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