After taking down North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic, Kentucky looks to continue momentum on the road against Louisville in the annual rivalry game on Thursday night.
TV Schedule: Thursday, December 21st, 5:00 p.m. CT, ESPN
Arena: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
It may not be the most highly anticipated Kentucky/Louisville basketball game in recent memory as Kenny Payne and the Louisville Cardinals limp into the matchup at just 5-6 on the year with recent losses to Arkansas State DePaul on their resume.
Despite the overall lack of intrigue compared to previous Kentucky/Louisville matchups, it’s still the Kentucky/Louisville Rivalry -- a wonderful late-December tradition in college basketball.
Kentucky, who enters the matchup with an 8-2 record after beating North Carolina 87-83 on Saturday, used a balanced scoring attack to get the win with all nine players in the scoring column. Freshman Rob Dillingham, D.J. Wagner, Reed Sheppard and Aaron Bradshaw led the way while the Wildcats got a boost in depth from sophomore Ugonna Onyenso -- who made his season debut on Saturday.
Despite a roster full of youth, the Wildcats have done an excellent job on the offensive side of the floor, such as taking care of the basketball and posting a highly efficient offense. Averaging only 9.4 turnovers per game, according to ESPN, keeping this number under ten would be ideal -- especially when on the road.
Louisville, on the other hand, is coming off of an 85-63 win over Pepperdine thanks to a 20-point effort from their leading rebounder, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. Curtis Williams was a spark off the bench for the Cardinals, tallying 16 points for the Cardinals.
Despite coming off of a 22-point win, Louisville has struggled offensively, posting just a 46.3 eFG%, according to BartTorvik. Missing the likes of JJ Traynor and Dennis Evans has hurt as both have been out due to shoulder injuries. Their returns are currently listed as GTD.
The Cardinals are clearly outmatched here as the Kenny Payne era looks to be on its last leg. Louisville might be able to hang close for a little bit, but it will be only a matter of time until Calipari’s Wildcats take control of the game.
ESPN gives Kentucky an 86.6% chance to win, while BartTorvik gives the Wildcats an 84% chance to win. Given how the season has unraveled for the Cardinals, expect Kentucky to get a comfortable win inside the not-so-friendly confines of the KFC Yum! Center.
Prediction: Kentucky 88, Louisville 71