College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, December 31, 2011
Whenever Kentucky and Louisville get together for a friendly game of college hoops, it's usually a good time for the fans, as Wildcats' coach John Calipari and Cardinals' coach Rick Pitino routinely send to the floor some of the top talent in the nation.
Saturday's festivities at Rupp Arena were well worth the price of admission as #3 Kentucky bettered #4 Louisville, 69-62, extending the Wildcats' home win streak to 44 games.
Kentucky is notable for Calipari's recruiting, which every year produces freshmen blessed with an abundance of talent and the current squad is not an exception. This year's starting five features three freshmen, including 6'7" forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who guided the Wildcats to victory with 24 points and 19 rebounds.
Kidd-Gilchrist was 7-for-16 from the field, with two of three from 3-point range, and 8-for-13 from the foul line. Both his scoring an rebounding were career (14 games) bests for the Somerdale, NJ native. His double-double effort was just his second of the season.
Fellow frosh Anthony Davis pitched in 18 points, 10 boards and six blocked shots. Davis saved all his scoring for the second half.
The game featured some of the most contentious defense of the season, with Kentucky winning while shooting just 30%. Louisville shot 32%, but Kentucky really made hay at the foul line, cashing 32 of 43 charity shots.
Louisville reserve guard Russ Smith came off the bench to score 30 points in 27 minutes for the Cardinals.
NOTABLE: Indiana did it again, knocking off #2 Ohio State, 74-70, just three weeks after setting down then-#1 Kentucky, 73-72. Entering the game, the 13-1 Hoosiers were ranked #13 in the last AP poll, and are certain to move up on Monday, when the new poll is released. Ohio State suffered just its second loss of the season. Their #2 ranking appears to be in jeopardy.