Smith, Louisville hold off Kentucky
Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Russ Smith scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, and No. 4 Louisville held off intrastate rival Kentucky, 80-77, at a raucous KFC Yum! Center.
Chane Behanan and Peyton Siva contributed 20 and 19 points, respectively, for the Cardinals (12-1), winners of seven straight since their lone loss to now- No. 1 Duke.
Archie Goodwin paced Kentucky (8-4) with 22 points but committed five of the Wildcats' 15 turnovers. Ryan Harrow chipped in 17 points in defeat.
Kentucky downed Louisville twice last season, including a duel in the Final Four. But with an entirely new starting lineup, the Wildcats have already lost twice as many games as that title squad, though they certainly showed some fight in losing the Battle of the Bluegrass for the first time in five tries.
The freshmen-heavy Wildcats cut a 17-point deficit down to two with six minutes remaining. Harrow's jumper from the foul line made it 63-61 before Smith made two free throws then followed his own miss with a bank shot to give Louisville some breathing room.
Over the next two minutes, Willie Cauley-Stein missed four free throws, highlighting a weakness for Kentucky, which shot just 11-of-23 (48 percent) from the foul line.
A strong take to the rim by Smith extended the lead to 73-64 with 2:20 remaining before deep makes from Goodwin and Julius Mays had the Wildcats within 75-70.
Three straight empty possessions sealed Kentucky's fate. Goodwin had a layup roll off the rim and had a 3-point attempt blocked by Gorgui Dieng, and Nerlens Noel turned the ball over with under a minute to play.
It was back-and-forth in the first 10 minutes, with Kentucky going ahead 18-12 on Alex Poythress' 3-pointer near the midway point.
The inexperienced Wildcats had turned the ball over just once at that point, but wound up with six more the rest of the half as Louisville turned up the pressure and built a lead.
The Cardinals scored 10 straight points after being down by six, then ended the half on an 11-3 spurt to take a 36-28 lead into the break.
The margin grew to 13 early in the second half when Smith laid one in off a steal for a 41-28 cushion. Another steal and easy deuce from Smith pushed the difference to 51-34 before consecutive Kyle Wiltjer 3-pointers jump-started a 10-0 flurry that pulled the Wildcats within seven.
Kentucky still leads the all-time series, 30-15 ... Wiltjer finished with 14 points ... The Cardinals, who came in with an NCAA-best turnover margin (plus-8.6), turned it over nine times ... Louisville had 16 more points in the paint (44-28) and 18 more fastbreak points (20-2) ... Kentucky plays its last non-conference foe next Wednesday when it hosts Eastern Michigan ... Louisville opens Big East play next Wednesday against Providence.
12/29 18:57:24 ET