The No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats scored a huge 78-70 overtime home victory over the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday.
Kentucky ended its two-game losing streak following losses to Utah and Ohio State to improve to 9-3 on the season, while Louisville lost for just the second time in 2019-20, dropping to 11-2.
The Wildcats have now won three in a row and seven of their past eight meetings with Louisville.
Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey led the way for the Wildcats, as he registered 13 points and four rebounds in the first half alone before finishing with 27 points and seven rebounds.
Kentucky also locked down Louisville defensively, holding the Cardinals to 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 25.9 percent from three, while the Wildcats shot 46.3 percent overall and 46.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Tyrese Maxey, G, KEN: 27 PTS, 7 REB
Immanuel Quickley, G, KEN: 18 PTS, 3 REB
Nick Richards, F, KEN: 13 PTS, 10 REB
Steven Enoch, C, LOU: 18 PTS, 5 REB
Dwayne Sutton, F, LOU: 14 PTS, 10 REB
Lamarr Kimble, G, LOU: 12 PTS, 4 AST
Jordan Nwora, F, LOU: 8 PTS, 4 REB
Maxey, Richards Come Up Huge in Gutsy Kentucky Win
Kentucky entered Saturday's game as a desperate team after losing consecutive games, and it showed, as the Wildcats led by eight at halftime and as many as 12 in the second half.
The play of Maxey, who scored a career-high 27 points in the win, played a significant role in the Wildcats' hot start, as he was firing on all cylinders from beyond the arc:
Nick Coffey of 790 KRD pointed out that everything seemed to be working in Kentucky's favor during the early going:
The tide started to shift as the game reached the midway point of the second half, however, with Louisville seizing the momentum.
Louisville went on a 14-3 run at one point to shrink what was once a 12-point deficit to one, and Justin Rowland of Rivals noted that a discrepancy in fouls played a role:
At around the midway point of the second half, Louisville knocked down threes on consecutive possessions to tie the score and then take the lead:
It would have been easy for Kentucky to wilt at that point with the momentum clearly on the Cardinals' side, but junior forward Nick Richards started to take the game over for Kentucky even with four fouls.
Richards drew a pair of offensive fouls in the second half, much to the approval of Stadium's Jeff Goodman and Chris Bailey of WKYT:
With Richards getting the Wildcats back in their groove, they managed to avoid a devastating loss and instead forced overtime.
Perhaps the biggest reason Louisville was unable to win it in regulation was the poor play of star forward Jordan Nwora, who was also out of sync in the Cardinals' only previous loss to Texas Tech:
Nwora snapped out of his funk to hit a massive three that gave the Cardinals the lead in overtime, though, and at that point, it looked like Louisville was destined for a huge comeback win.
The Wildcats answered back, however, and after Richards hit two free throws to give Kentucky a two-point lead late in the overtime session, the Cardinals could not net the equalizer, and their comeback was all for naught.
Kentucky will begin SEC play when it hosts the 7-4 Missouri Tigers on Jan. 4 in a game the Wildcats should be heavily favored to win.
Meanwhile, Louisville will open its ACC slate Jan. 4 when it hosts the No. 17 Florida State Seminoles, who are currently 11-2.