In front of a hostile and record crowd, the Kentucky Wildcats rallied from 17 down but ended up losing to Louisville, 80-77.
Chane Behanan was by far the most impressive player on both sides of the ball. He dominated on the offensive and defensive side of the ball all night long. Early in the game he seemed to play with almost to much emotion and energy, but then again, that isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. Behanan had a couple dunks that brought down the house, including one that sealed the game late. He ended with 20 Pts, 7 Rbs, 3 Ast, 3 Stl and 1 Blk.
Russ Smith once again made sure he was the leading scorer in the game with 21 points. Also the fact that he took 7 more shots than anyone else on the team kind of helped toward that cause. Smith was forced to play with four fouls in crunch time and played as good as usual. Russ was 3-6 from the free throw line and did not make a 3 all game long. Smith also had 3 Stls, 3 Ast, and 7 Rbs.
Peyton Siva was 6-11 from the field and finished with 19 points. Siva was in foul trouble basically the entire game and was forced to play a laid back style of defense (sorta). Siva was 5-5 from the charity stripe and finished with 1 Ast, 1 Stl and 2 Rbs.
After a couple great games from Wayne Blackshear, he struggled in this one. Blackshear was only 2-7 from the field and finished with only 5 points. Towards the end of the game he was given a chance to put the final touch on a victory and he missed both of the free throws. If you are looking for a bright spot, he did finish with 7 rebounds.
Gorgui Dieng cameback from his wrist injury tonight and got into foul trouble early. He did not start, like early reports indicated, but he did play exactly half of the game. Dieng had a monster dunk to spark a 23-10 run to end the first half. His parents saw him play for the first time in his life and it had to have been emotional since the moment he got off the bench to come in, there was a roaring ovation. Also his parents got a huge ovation when they were put on the jumbo-tron. Dieng had 6 Pts, 7 Rbs, 2 Blk and 1 Ast.
Montrezl Harrell played every bit as well as Dieng, giving Louisville a viable 3rd frontcourt player. He finished with 7 Pts and 4 Rbs in 23 minutes. But most importantly he made 5-6 free throws which had been his achilles heel in the past.
I took a special look at Luke Hancock tonight and one thing stood out more than anything, he doesn’t move on offense. It seemed as if he stood in the corner during every offensive possession and did absolutely nothing. Also on the defensive end he was repeatedly beat off the dribble by both Harrow and Goodwin.
Louisville outscored Kentucky 44-28 in the paint and 20-2 off of fast breaks. Other than those two stats, both teams stat line looks very similar.
In the end, Louisville moves on and has bragging rights for the year, which is a great thing to be able to say. I was very impressed with Kentucky’s resiliency for a team full of freshman. To come back from 17 points in such a crazy environment is impressive for any team. The two players on Kentucky that impressed me the most were Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein. Stein’s atleticism and size makes him a threat at all times and Goodwin’s streakiness makes him a threat at all times also.
For the most part there weren’t horrible fans at the game. Where I was sitting there was a fight that broke out but other than that little skirmish it seemed that everyone got along. Of course you did have your crazy drunks spouting their mouths as people walked out.
P.S. Louisville NEVER EVER EVER PLAY THAT CHRISTMAS ALBUM THING ON THE JUMBO-TRON AGAIN!