LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Scoreless in two previous rivalry games, the point guard Louisville calls “Q” regrouped to be the Cardinals’ X-factor against Kentucky.
Quentin Snider scored a career-high 22 points, including a key drive with 1:44 remaining, and Jaylen Johnson and Donovan Mitchell combined for four points in the final 16 seconds to help No. 10 Louisville hold off No. 6 Kentucky 73-70 on Wednesday night in the 50th battle for Bluegrass bragging rights.
After managing just two rebounds in 28 minutes last year in Lexington, Snider rebounded with 10-of-19 shooting, including two 3-pointers, as the Cardinals earned a signature win against their in-state rival. The Louisville native’s final basket was beautiful, a fake ending with a drive for a 69-63 lead that proved critical in withstanding Kentucky’s furious final rally.
“This was pretty big,” Snider said. “Last year’s performance kind of carried into my mind the whole season, so I was waiting for this game. This was kind of a revenge game.”
Johnson’s layup with 16 seconds left and Mitchell two free throws 8 seconds later built a three-point edge that ended a four-game losing streak in the series.
Malik Monk — whose NBA-range 3-pointer with 12 seconds left capped a 7-2 run that got Kentucky within 71-70 before he fouled Mitchell in the backcourt — bounced another 3-point attempt to tie off the front of the rim with 3 seconds left. Deng Adel (career-high 18 points) grabbed the rebound to seal the win for Louisville (11-1) and spark a loud celebration among teammates and a predominantly red-clad crowd.
The tense ending was fitting in a thriller that featured 10 ties and nine lead changes between foes located about 80 miles apart.
“Our guys did a great job, not only defensively, but of attacking the rim,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
De’Aaron Fox led Kentucky (10-2) with 21 points while Monk had 16 a game after scoring a school freshman-record 47 against North Carolina. Monk followed up his 18-of-28 performance by shooting 6 of 17 from the field and 1 of 9 from long range.
THE BIG PICTURE
Kentucky: The Wildcats’ initial fast pace was eventually slowed as Louisville’s expected mixture of defenses disrupted their passing and shooting. The Wildcats shot just 40 percent from the field and were outrebounded 40-36.
“The biggest thing tonight is we didn’t have discipline,” coach John Calipari said. “We were walking out of timeouts and guys were breaking off, doing their own thing and they’d give an excuse of why they did it.”
Added Fox, “We had some small things that turned out to be big problems in the end.”
Louisville: Snider and Adel provided big first-half lifts for Louisville before Johnson (14 points) chipped in after the break. More importantly, the Cardinals hit from long range after struggling for most of the season. They finished a season-best 43 percent (6 of 14) from behind the arc and have exceeded 41 percent the past two games.
The Wildcats remain a Top 10 team but could drop a couple of spots with the loss. Louisville followed up Top 10 status with the signature victory it sought against a rival that had won eight of nine in the series and could move up in the Top 10.
THIS ONE’S FOR YOU
Lamar Jackson used the Commonwealth’s biggest basketball game to share its biggest football honor with Louisville fans at halftime. The Heisman Trophy winner and Cardinals sophomore quarterback was cheered loudly as he unveiled a replica Heisman that will reside on campus.
A FATHER’S PRIDE
Scott Snider said his son holed up in his room after last year’s 75-73 loss at Kentucky and was determined to make up for it this season.
“I’m happy for Q because he didn’t score last year and took it real hard,” the father said. “For him to come back and have a game like this, it makes up for everything that happened last year.”
GET SOME REST
Mitchell acknowledged that this game had weighed on his mind to the point of affecting his sleep.
“I’ve actually lost sleep, never had that before,” said Mitchell, who had 13 points. “I’m not a fan of the color blue.”
The sophomore should sleep well after Louisville’s victory.
Kentucky: Begins defense of its SEC championship on Dec. 29 at Mississippi. The Wildcats lead the series 104-13 and have won the last seven against the Rebels.
Louisville: Hosts No. 12 Virginia on Dec. 28 in the ACC opener for both schools. The Cardinals have lost three of four to the Cavaliers since joining the conference.
AP freelance writer Josh Abner contributed to this report.
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