LOUISVILLE — Frustrated at every turn it seemed, Louisville just couldn't find enough offense to keep up with Kentucky.
Top-ranked UK scored a 58-50 victory Saturday in the KFC Yum Center, holding U of L to a season-low 25.9 percent from the field (15-for-58).
"I think the message to our basketball team was we really had to win it with offense, because we're a little offensively challenged, especially from the three-point line," Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino said. "We wanted to go in to Montrezl Harrell as much as possible, but they did a very good job denying it. Their length is pretty incredible.
"Not being able to pass the ball like we want, not getting on the break, our defense was very, very good in the first half. We knew that we would play good defense. We knew we'd force turnovers. It was a question of whether we could score, and the answer was we didn't. That's why they're victorious. ... I know one thing, they're one of the great defensive teams I've seen in my 40 years. They can switch and not cause a mismatch, they can move their feet, they can block the shot. They're a great defensive team, no question about it."
Fourth-ranked U of L (11-1) dropped to 4-6 all-time in regular-season games against No. 1 ranked teams. UK (13-0) has won seven of the last eight games in the rivalry.
The Cardinals fell two games short of matching their best start in school history. The Cards have opened 13-0 three times.
"We played as hard as we could. I can say that," said U of L's Wayne Blackshear, who scored 10 points. "I think everybody that was out there was playing as hard as we could. The game didn't go our way. We had some miscommunication out there, and we've just got to get better."
Chris Jones had U of L's lone assist. That's the fewest for the Cards in any game going back to at least the 1998-99 season. During that span, the previous low was four assists on Dec. 18, 1999 — in a 76-46 loss at UK.
"We've got to move the ball," Blackshear said. "We've got to stick to our game plan. Coach told us what to do, and I think we kind of got away from it."
"It's crazy," Terry Rozier, who led U of L with 15 points, said of the one-assist total. "I think their length bothered us. Couldn't really dump it down."
"I'll tell you the truth, we missed about eight to 10 easy shots," Pitino said. "That's a credit to them, but also we're a little offensively challenged. We've had this problem the whole year. We're working very hard at it."
Harrell, averaging 16.7 points, was held to nine on 4-for-9 shooting from the field. That snapped his streak of 22 games scoring in double figures.
"They're big. They're bigger than everybody," said Jones, who totaled 13 points while shooting 3-for-15 from the field. "But we had a chance to win. ... I think we lost our defensive intensity toward the end of the game. But it's a learning process. We lost this game. Move on."
■ Jones added two steals, giving him 100 for his career.
■ U of L, which had not trailed by more than five points in any game this season, fell 12 back at 50-38.
■ Entering the weekend ranked fourth in the nation at 11.0 steals per game, U of L tallied 10 Saturday. That marked the 10th time in 12 games the Cards have finished with 10 or more thefts.
■ Ranked fourth in the nation with 16.7 offensive rebounds per game, U of L gathered 18 against UK.