- Saturday, December 27 1997 -
Louisville - 79 (Head Coach: Denny Crum) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 76 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 4th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 35, Louisville 31
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|American 75 - 52|||||Ohio 95 - 58|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 7 No. 17. (All Rights Reserved)
Lackluster, Lackadaisical, Lethargic Lumps Lose to Louisville:
Kentucky unexpectedly lost 79-76 to Louisville in Rupp Arena, snapping a 6 year winning record against non-conference opponents at home. A valiant final minute effort to tie the score or go ahead failed when no UK player stepped forward, and all appeared tentative at taking the final shot (UofL didn't help its own cause in making only 5 of its final 12 FTs of the game). UK had been ranked #4 by AP when the game was played.
UofL used a 2-3 zone, which appeared to bother the cold-shooting Wildcats, especially from 3 pt range. Kentucky's players appeared slow to stop Louisville's 3 pt shooting, and the Cardinals responded by hitting 12 of 22 long range FGs. The Cards scored early and led UK by a small margin, but Kentucky slowly crawled back to take a 20-12 lead. Neither school could pull far ahead, with Kentucky maintaining a tenuous 35-31 halftime edge.
Louisville came out on a mission in the 2nd half, making only 5 turnovers and shooting 63% from the floor. UK led only 61-59 with 8 minutes left, but the Cardinals controlled the game from that point on. A set of 3 consecutive 3 pt shots gave them a permanent lead, and they led by 9 pts with around 2.5 minutes left. But the Cats clawed back to trail 78-76 with around 20 seconds left, yet were unable to execute their offense coherently in that time. A Nate Johnson FT, due to a Sheppard foul in going for a loose ball, with 14.8 seconds remaining, gave the Cardinals an insurmountable lead. UofL wouldn't give Kentucky an open 3 pt shot in the game's final moments, forcing Scott Padgett to heave a desperation toss near the end of the game which wasn't close.
Louisville's 12 3 pt shots is a high this season for a UK opponent. Kentucky's 21.7% from 3 pt range was a season low for the Cats. After the loss, UK players said they expected Coach Smith to toughen his Christmas break practice policy. Allen Edwards predicted, "There will be a lot of screaming. It's really going to come out. All that Mr. Nice Guy stuff is going to go out the window." Padgett further acknowledged that the Cats might have anticipated victory before even playing the game, saying, "That might have been a reason we lost. We might have thought we were a big, old mighty team. And we weren't."
For only the 2nd time this season, a UK opponent's bench outscored Kentucky's (36-20 in favor of UofL). Missouri was the only other adversary to achieve this (29-25 for the Tigers).
Eric Johnson slams two of his twenty points for the Cardinals