LOUISVILLE — Rick Pitino said little following his team's 58-50 loss to the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.
There wasn't much to say. The numbers told the story.
"It was a question of whether we could score," Pitino said, "and the answer was, we didn't. That's why they're victorious."
UK — no offensive juggernaut itself Saturday — held Pitino's fourth-ranked Cardinals to a season-low 18 points in the first half. Louisville shot 25.9 percent from the field for the game, also a season low.
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The Cards dished out just one assist in 40 minutes — not only a season low but the program's lowest total in that category since at least the 1998-99 season. (U of L's staff was still crunching the numbers on that one Saturday evening).
In a head-to-head matchup of the two best defensive teams in the country, the Cats proved they belong at the top.
"Our game plan was just to play the defense we always play," said UK freshman Karl-Anthony Towns. "If we could do that, we could beat anybody."
Pitino said the plan was to get the ball to national player of the year candidate Montrezl Harrell as much as possible.
More numbers: Harrell scored a season-low nine points, and he tied season lows with four made field goals and just one free throw.
"They had a man sitting overtop of me, and then they had a man sitting on the back side of me," Harrell said. "That was pretty tough to try to get the ball. And even when I got the ball, I had shots that really didn't bounce my way."
UK forced just nine turnovers, the best an opponent has fared against these Cats in that category all season long. Even there, UK took advantage by winning the points-off-turnovers battle 16-14 despite committing exactly twice as many as the Cards.
A major reason for that was Willie Cauley-Stein, who played limited minutes due to foul trouble but was his same disruptive self while he was out there.
Cauley-Stein, credited with three steals in 23 minutes, started the second-half scoring by fighting off Harrell for a loose ball and slamming it home in transition.
Six straight Louisville points later, Cauley-Stein, playing with three fouls, stole the ball in the post, and Towns converted an and-one at the other end. A few minutes later, Cauley-Stein did it again. That time, it led to a Tyler Ulis three-pointer.
"Does that surprise any of us? That Willie played great defense?" Towns said with a big smile. "I mean, that's his specialty. There's going to be one time in my life that I'll be able to play with a person like Willie Cauley-Stein."
Towns acknowledged that several of UK's victories have been on the ugly side this season, and Saturday's was certainly one of them.
The Cats' 58 points were two more than their season low. They tied season lows in field goals and assists and tied a season high with 18 turnovers.
They also improved to 13-0, and that seems to be the only number that matters.
"It's always about the W," Towns said. "We're not always going to look good. We're not always going to look the brightest and the sharpest. But as long as we come out with the W ... we can move to the next game and fix what we need to fix."