In the Cardinals first road game after playing - and winning - their first six games at home, the Wildcats showed Louisville that life on the road is nothing like playing in Freedom Hall.
Louisville never really had a chance. David Padgett, the Cardinals 6-11 center, picked up two early fouls and watched the final 17 minutes of the first half from the U of L bench.
Depite Padgett's early foul trouble, Kentucky's tough defense combined with Louisville's poor shooting in the first half were the primary reasons the Wildcats led 39-25 at the break. The Cardinals shot just 25 percent before halftime and were clearly on the ropes.
"We played like a very young and immature team," Pitino said. "We did not run our offense on the road to get high percentage shots, including the guys who have experience. We can't let Kentucky shoot 48 percent from the field and get only two steals in a game."
Smith thought Kentucky's fast start energized his team.
"The start was what I thought was really the key to the game today," said Wildcat coach Tubby Smith. "We got off to a great start and played very energized."
Louisville also didn't have an answer for Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo, the former Eastern High star that Pitino passed on to sign Sebastian Telfair.
Louisville couldn't stop Rajon Rondo,
who scored a career-high 25 points
"Rondo is a terrific guard," Pitino said of Rondo, who hit 10-15 free throws. "He is one of the top guards in college basketball. When he hits his free throws he is really tough."
Taquan Dean, U of L's leading scorer entering the game, struggled offensively against Kentucky. Though he scored 14 points, Dean made just 5-16 shots from the field and took the blame for U of L's poor performance after the game.
"I took a few shots which took us right out of our offense," Dean said. "I take responsibility for this loss. As a leader on this team, I wasn't a very good leader today. They were feeding off me and I wasn't leading them in the right direction. These guys played their hearts out today."
Padgett scored 12 points, all in the second half, for the Cardinals. Juan Palacios led Louisville in scoring with 15.
"Kentucky came out and outplayed us in every area of the game," Padgett said. "They were just the better basketball team today and anytime that happens it's not going to leave a good taste in your mouth after the game."
Sharay Thomas scored 11 points for Kentucky, while sophomore guards Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford combined to score 17 points.
"Kentucky has one of the top backcourts in the country," said Pitino. "When you have a strong backcourt in college basketball you have the potential to be a great basketball team."
Louisville will return to Freedom Hall where they'll play Middle Tennessee State in the first game of the fourth annual Billy Minardi Classic Tuesday night.