An 18th century writer from England, Thomas Mordaunt, coined a memorable term: the "crowded hour." Teddy Roosevelt used it to describe his charge on San Juan Hill. It applied to Kentucky's 73-66 victory over archrival Louisville on Saturday.
The crowded hour refers to a moment when adversity tests character. UK faced such a moment of truth in the cauldron of arguably college basketball's most intense rivalry.
UK had to overcome not only No. 6 Louisville, which returned several players from last season's national championship team. The Cats also had to try to win without their most productive player, Julius Randle. Cramps made the nation's leader in double-doubles hardly more than a spectator in the second half. Three times he went to the bench because of cramps. The third time, which came with 11:01 left, ended his day at 17 points and a season-low three rebounds.
Although Randle did not score a point nor grab a rebound in the second half, Kentucky gritted its way to its first victory in four tries against a ranked opponent this season.
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"We grew up today," UK Coach John Calipari said. "... You know why? Because they knew if they didn't play together, they had no shot in this game."
The victory breathed life in the pre-game message written on a board in UK's locker room: Look like a team. Play like a team. Fight like a team.
"We have to be more like a team," Calipari said, "and they were that today."
To lose would invite further questions about whether heralded freshmen could unite in purpose, could execute in the clutch and, maybe more importantly, simply persevere.
"We wanted to protect our house," said Alex Poythress, a graybeard sophomore. "We wanted to make a statement that we're still a great team, and people shouldn't take us lightly."
No surrender despite no Randle propelled Kentucky to its 10th victory in 13 games. Not that the Cats were happy Randle was incapacitated, but they saw some good come from it.
"That's just how deep this team is and how good we've been playing," Poythress said. "... We don't allow one person (to dictate the team's fate). We have a whole lot of great pieces and great players on this team."
UK's other six McDonald's All-Americans picked up the slack.
Freshmen scored all but five of Kentucky's points in the second half.
James Young, who scored 18 points, gave Kentucky the lead for good when he out-scrapped U of L for a putback. That put the Cats ahead 55-53 and began a 13-3 run that gave Kentucky a lead to protect down the stretch.
"They played with more heart than us," U of L's Montrezl Harrell said. "They out-hustled us in this game."
A 41-36 halftime lead reflected how well Kentucky's freshmen dealt with adversity. Louisville scored the game's first eight points.
"I knew we'd pick it back up," Young said. "We were in that situation before against Michigan State."
Kentucky rallied from a 14-0 deficit against Michigan State. Randle fueled a furious comeback that fell four points short.
Against Louisville, Randle buoyed Kentucky in the first half. Randle, who faced only one defender much of the half, scored 17 points. He blunted U of L's early momentum by scoring the Cats' first five points.
Louisville had 12 first-half fouls. Down the stretch, freshman Akoy Agau, who had played only 36 minutes all season, tried guarding Randle.
Kentucky's size won over Louisville's guard play. The Cats outrebounded Louisville 25-14 and enjoyed a 24-12 advantage in points from the paint in the first half.
Russ Smith and Chris Jones combined for 25 of their 36 points in the first half. But Jones scored only two in the final 9:06 of the half (when Dominique Hawkins was the defender much of the time). Smith, who had only one basket in the first 16 minutes-plus, finished the half with 10 points.
Trailing at halftime for the first time this season, Louisville rallied to tie at 53. Kentucky led 60-56 when Young curled off a screen to hit a seemingly decisive three-pointer.
"They may drive to the basket and get fouled," U of L Coach Rick Pitino said. "But leaving the guy wide open and not being with him on a simple curl is just not good defense."
UK showed its youth down the stretch, but Louisville got no closer than five.
"If (Randle) hadn't gone out, we'd probably have gone up by 20," Young said.
Kentucky leads series vs. Louisville 31-15
Date Winner Score Location
Feb 15, 1913 Kentucky 34-10 Lexington
Feb. 7, 1914 Kentucky 22-17 Lexington
Mar. 3, 1914 Kentucky 26-13 Louisville
Jan. 23, 1915 Kentucky 18-14 Lexington
Feb. 27, 1915 Louisville 26-15 Louisville
Feb. 12, 1916 Louisville 28-22 Lexington
Feb. 22, 1916 Kentucky 32-24 Louisville
Jan. 17, 1922 Kentucky 38-14 Louisville
Jan. 21, 1922 Kentucky 29-22 Lexington
Mar. 27, 1948 Kentucky 91-57 New York (Olympic Trials)
Mar. 20, 1951 Kentucky 79-68Raleigh, N.C. (NCAA first round)
Mar. 13, 1959 Louisville 76-61Evanston, Ill. (NCAA first round)
Mar. 26, 1983 Louisville80-68 (OT)Knoxville (NCAA Elite Eight)
Nov. 26, 1983 Kentucky 65-44 Lexington
Mar. 22, 1984 Kentucky 72-67 Lexington (NCAA Sweet 16)
Dec. 15, 1984 Louisville 71-64 Louisville
Dec. 28, 1985 Kentucky 69-64 Lexington
Dec. 27, 1986 Kentucky 85-51 Louisville
Dec. 12, 1987 Kentucky 76-75 Lexington
Dec. 31, 1988 Louisville 97-75 Louisville
Dec. 30, 1989 Louisville 86-79 Lexington
Dec. 29, 1990 Kentucky 93-85 Louisville
Dec. 28, 1991 Kentucky103-89Lexington
Dec. 12, 1992 Kentucky 88-68 Louisville
Nov. 27, 1993 Kentucky 78-70 Lexington
Jan. 1, 1995 Louisville 88-86 Louisville
Dec. 23, 1995 Kentucky 89-66 Lexington
Dec. 31, 1996 Kentucky 74-54 Louisville
Dec. 27, 1997 Louisville 79-76 Lexington
Dec. 26, 1998 Louisville 83-74 Louisville
Dec. 18, 1999 Kentucky 76-46 Lexington
Jan. 2, 2001 Kentucky 64-62 Louisville
Dec. 29, 2001 Kentucky 82-62 Lexington
Dec. 28, 2002 Louisville 81-63 Louisville
Dec. 27, 2003 Louisville 65-56 Lexington
Dec. 18, 2004 Kentucky 60-58 Louisville
Dec. 17, 2005 Kentucky 73-61 Lexington
Dec. 16, 2006 Kentucky 61-49 Louisville
Jan. 5, 2008 Louisville 89-75 Lexington
Jan. 4, 2009 Louisville 74-71 Louisville
Jan. 2, 2010 Kentucky 71-62 Lexington
Dec. 31, 2010 Kentucky 78-63 Louisville
Dec. 31, 2011 Kentucky 69-62 Lexington
Mar. 31, 2012 Kentucky 69-61New Orleans (NCAA Final Four)
Dec. 29, 2012 Louisville 80-77 Louisville
Dec. 28, 2013 Kentucky 73-66Lexington