Freshman point guard Tyler Ulis came off the Kentucky bench to score a career-high 14 points and play turnover-free basketball against Louisville’s swarming defense in leading the No. 1 Wildcats to a 58-50 win over the No. 4 Cardinals on Saturday at the Yum! Center.
“He played well. He played really well,” UK head coach John Calipari said of the 5-foot-9 Ulis, who bounced back from taking an elbow to the head that required some patchwork and postgame stitches. “He ran our team. He created good shots. He controlled the game. Played good defense, too.”
Kentucky (13-0) also got big contributions from freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns (10 points, 9 rebounds) and freshman forward Trey Lyles (6 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) to remain undefeated on the season. Sophomore center Dakari Johnson added nine rebounds for UK, which dominated the glass 46-33.
“We rebounded our brains out,” said Calipari, who improved to 7-1 against Louisville since taking the UK job.
True to form, the Cats’ suffocating defense held Louisville to 25.9 percent (15 of 58) from the field. Louisville star Montrezl Harrell managed only nine points and eight rebounds, well below the junior forward’s season averages.
"Their length is pretty incredible... They're one of the great defensive teams I've seen in my 40 years," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of UK.
The Cards led for only 1:34 during the game, at 13-12 in the first half. They did, however, become the first opponent this season to play the top-ranked Cats within single digits.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highs and lows:
WHAT WE LIKED: Kentucky has shown it can win games against strong competition this season even when two or three of its players don’t have their ‘A’ games. Today, it was the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, who had just 10 points between them on 3-for-16 shooting and turned the ball over seven times. Not to mention junior center Willie Cauley-Stein battling foul trouble for most of the second half and having a rare “0” in the blocks column on his final stat line. Scary thought for future opponents: these Cats have so much depth, they’re almost resistant to slumps or foul trouble.
KEY MOMENT: Leading by five at the under-8 timeout of the second half, Kentucky got a 3-pointer by Ulis, a steal and free throw by Aaron Harrison and a pull-up jumper by Ulis to grab its first double-digit lead of the day, 45-34.
STAT OF THE DAY: Louisville finished with just one assist in the game on 58 shots from the field.
QUOTABLE: "Andrew (Harrison) didn’t play well, but that’s what’s good about this group. You don’t have to be great. OK, you played a bad game. Next. But he made a huge 3 that put us up (12), and I knew that was the game.” – UK coach John Calipari.
UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action on Jan. 6 in its SEC opener against Ole Miss. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena with broadcast on the SEC Network. The Rebels (8-3) play at Dayton (9-2) on Tuesday and against Austin Peay on Jan. 3 before heading to Lexington.