LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Rick Pitino thinks Billy Gillispie will
one day get Kentucky back among the nation's elite.
That didn't stop Pitino from turning Gillispie's debut in the
rivalry locals call "The Dream Game" into another nightmarish
chapter for the first-year Wildcats coach.
Using a myriad of defenses that rattled Kentucky and silenced
raucous Rupp Arena, Louisville raced to an 89-75 win Saturday to
snap a three-game losing streak against its biggest rival.
"Our guys played a good, smart basketball game," Pitino said.
Smart enough to extend Kentucky's misery and give the Cardinals
(10-4) a much-needed boost heading into the rugged Big East
It's a stretch the Cardinals appeared to be ready for after
forcing 22 turnovers and playing with the kind of intensity and
cohesion they have lacked at times this season.
Senior forward Juan Palacios - who missed the first 10 games
with a knee injury - scored 17 points to go with six rebounds and
four assists, ending three years of frustration against the
"No senior wants to leave Louisville without beating
Kentucky," said Palacios, who limped so painfully through practice
all week that Pitino wondered if he would even play. "This is big
for us. It gives us confidence."
The Wildcats had hoped an upset of their rivals would help erase
the memory of stunning home losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego.
Instead, Kentucky (6-7) will stumble into SEC play under .500
for the first time since 1988-89, the season before Pitino arrived
in Lexington to revive a program decimated by scandal.
Gillispie's rebuilding project won't be quite so extensive, but
after watching his team repeat the same mistakes that have plagued
them all season, he knows Kentucky has a long way to go if it wants
to be competitive in the SEC.
"We have to become a much tougher team," Gillispie said. "We
have to become a much better defensive team."
Ramel Bradley led Kentucky with 27 points and Joe Crawford added
19 in his final game against Louisville, but the Wildcats shot just
41 percent and wore down in the second half against the bigger,
deeper and more experienced Cardinals.
Jerry Smith had 17 points and Terrence Williams added 15 points
and six rebounds for Louisville, which had five players in double
figures and received significant contributions from whomever Pitino
called off the bench.
"That's just like practice," Palacios said. "Everybody plays,
everybody gets after it and when they come in, they're ready."
Louisville harassed Kentucky freshman forward Patrick Patterson
all game, blocking several of his shots and muscling him out of the
lane. Patterson finished with four points on 3-of-14 shooting and
turned the ball over six times.
"They did a really good job being physical with him,"
The Cardinals trailed by one at the break, but took control with
a dizzying 11 minutes at the start of the second half. Louisville
reeled off eight straight points to grab the lead, forcing the
Wildcats into turnovers and then racing the other way down the
"The way we started the second half wasn't good at all because
they jumped on us and we didn't hit back," Bradley said. "We
didn't fight back and that was the turning point of the game."
After settling for jumpers in the first half, the Cardinals
attacked the basket in the second. The result was easier shots or
free throws, and the lead eventually ballooned to 62-40 with just
over nine minutes left.
"This is the way we wanted to play all along," Williams said.
"Palacios did everything for us. When we needed a basket, he got
it for us."
Kentucky frantically trimmed the margin to 10 with 1:22
remaining, but Louisville made enough free throws down the stretch
to put it away.
The game lacked a high level of play - the teams combined for 36
turnovers and 56 fouls - but not the intensity of years past.
Things briefly got ugly with just more than eight minutes left
when Bradley intentionally fouled Louisville center David Padgett
hard on a wide-open layup. Williams rose to Padgett's defense,
exchanging heated words with Bradley before they were separated by
officials. Williams received a technical foul before order was
"He's my center and I was just protecting him like a brother,"
Williams said. "I wanted to be a shield for my brother."
Louisville played without leading rebounder Earl Clark, who
missed the game for unspecified reasons. Clark wore an all-red
jumpsuit and sat at the end of the bench during the game.
The Cardinals didn't need him against the undersized Wildcats.
Louisville dominated the glass when it mattered, and had little
trouble getting into the lane.
"We watched the 'Gladiator' movie two nights ago and it was my
movie," Williams said. "Rupp Arena was the Coliseum. We were
trying to survive and we did. The main message was we had to stick
together. If we stick together, we will survive. That's what we
did. We survived."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)