No. 19 Kentucky will look for a bounce-back win against visiting Louisville on Saturday afternoon in Lexington, Ky.
The Wildcats (8-4) are coming off an 89-75 loss at Missouri in both teams’ Southeastern Conference opener on Wednesday.
Louisville (2-11) hasn’t played since Dec. 22, when it dropped its second straight game with a 76-64 setback at NC State in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Kentucky, which has lost two of its past three games, was dominated by the Tigers, who led by 12 points at halftime and by as many as 21 in the second half.
The Wildcats allowed Missouri to shoot 28 of 57 (49.1 percent) from the field, including 10 of 25 (40 percent) from 3-point range. Missouri, which was led by Kobe Brown’s 30 points, committed just eight turnovers.
“You got to give them credit –that was what they did to us,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Missouri would have beat a whole lot of teams the way they played tonight. They beat us pretty good.”
Oscar Tshiebwe, who averages a team-high 15.8 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, had 23 points and a game-high 19 boards. Cason Wallace, who averages 12.4 points, added 19 points. Sahvir Wheeler, who averages 9.1 points and a team-high 6.5 assists per game, finished with 12 points and a game-high eight assists.
The Wildcats committed 14 turnovers and shot 8 of 23 from 3-point range, including missing nine of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc. Kentucky went 15 of 24 from the free-throw line, while Missouri went 23 of 28.
“I think we got a lot of work we need to do,” Tshiebwe said.
While Kentucky took its third double-digit loss this season, lopsided defeats have been common for Louisville, which started the season 0-9 before a two-game winning streak was followed by consecutive defeats.
The Cardinals have lost seven games by at least a dozen points after NC State pulled away in the second half.
After El Ellis’ two free throws tied the game at 33 with 18 minutes remaining, the Wolfpack responded with a decisive 17-0 run to put the game away.
For Louisville, Sydney Curry had 16 points and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, who averages 8.1 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game, had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Ellis, who averages a team-high 17.1 points per game, finished with 15 points and Mike James, who averages 6.8 points, chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.
Louisville also missed 10 of its 24 free throws, committed 19 turnovers — 11 more than the Wolfpack — and gave up 12 offensive rebounds. NC State took 17 more shots than the Cardinals.
“I told the guys to go home for a couple of days, spend time with their families and enjoy the Christmas break. I told them that I also want them to think about what more they can do to bring more to the table,” Louisville first-year coach Kenny Payne said.
“What more can they do — each individual — to help us get over the hump? I think they need their break, but they need it for a couple of reasons. It’s Christmas and a great time of the year, but they can reflect on what they truly want this team to be.”
–Field Level Media