Who’s up and who’s down after a basketball game that ensured a blue Christmas of the wrong kind for the BBN:
In a sense, however, the UK coach was a winner. Calipari showed how a coach should publicly handle a difficult rivalry loss.
First, as far as we know, Cal did not direct any derogatory hand gestures at heckling fans on the way off the court.
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Second, after a game in which our state commands a national media platform, the UK coach held a postgame news conference even though his team lost.
Calipari was clearly not happy, but he didn’t insult either UK or U of L fans by minimizing the importance of rivalry games.
The UK coach finished by complimenting Louisville and its head coach, Rick Pitino.
“Congratulations to Louisville and Rick,” Calipari said. “Great game, great environment, congratulations to them.”
Down: Kentucky freshmen. In the history of Calipari-era UK dominance of U of L, the story had been Wildcats freshmen seizing the big stage vs. the Cardinals.
From John Wall (17 points) and DeMarcus Cousins (18 points, 18 rebounds) to Brandon Knight (25 points) to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (24 points, 19 rebounds) to Anthony Davis (18 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocked shots) to James Young (18 points, 10 boards) to Julius Randle (15 points, 12 rebounds) through Tyler Ulis (14 points in grind-it-out 58-50 win), UK freshman star power fueled Calipari’s eight wins in his first nine games vs. Louisville.
UK’s current frosh stars could not continue the trend Wednesday night.
Malik Monk struggled (6 of 17 field goals, 1 of 9 three-pointers) with his shot. De’Aaron Fox missed four free throws and committed four turnovers. Bam Adebayo went 1-for-6 from the foul line and had three turnovers. Wenyen Gabriel scored only two points.
By making the pressure-packed contest the first true road game on the Wildcats schedule, UK schedulers didn’t do this year’s freshmen any favors.
Up: Kentucky high school basketball. Before this year, Louisville junior point guard Quentin Snider had played against Kentucky twice. The former Ballard High School star had never made a basket, going 0-for-6.
The crafty Snider abused Kentucky’s perimeter defense Wednesday, though, with 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Snider, Kentucky’s 2014 Mr. Basketball, won the MVP Award for the UK-U of L game that has been presented by the Bluegrass Sports Commission since 2010-11, the first homegrown player ever to do so.
It is the second straight year that a Kentucky-produced guard has had a big impact on Cats-Cards. Last season, UK’s Dominique Hawkins, the 2013 Mr. Basketball from Madison Central, scored 13 points — including Kentucky’s final five — in the Cats’ 75-73 win in Rupp Arena.
Down: UK defense on opposing small forwards. In the past two games, Kentucky’s three-guard lineup has been exposed by small forwards.
North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound junior, dropped 34 points on the Cats, hitting 10 of 17 shots.
Louisville’s Deng Adel had struggled with his shot all season (35.5 percent field goals, 28.9 percent treys), but the 6-7, 200-pound sophomore could get any shot he wanted against UK, scoring 18 points on 5-for-10 shooting (2-for-3 from three-point range).
Up: Louisville and Kentucky fans. Since UK and U of L began playing annually in 1983-84, the team that has won the regular-season contest has gone on to the Final Four nine times — and won the national championship three times (UK in 1995-96 and 2011-12; U of L in 2012-13).
The loser has gone on to the Final Four four times — and won the NCAA title twice (U of L in 1985-86; UK in 1997-98).
Down: Louisville and Kentucky fans. Kentucky has gone to the Final Four eight times as the Cats-Cards winner, only once (1997-98) as the loser.
Louisville has gone to the Final Four only once (2012-13) as the regular-season winner, but has gone three times (1985-86, 2004-05, 2011-12) as the loser.