No. 4 Louisville holds off Kentucky, 80-77
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky coach John Calipari credited his players' resilience Saturday in an 80-77 loss to No. 4 Louisville.
He was harder on himself for failing to give the Wildcats a chance to win a close game.
Down 17 points with 14:45 remaining in the game, Kentucky cut it to 77-74 after Archie Goodwin's four-point play with 33 seconds left. The Wildcats got the ball back after Russ Smith's free throw put Louisville ahead 78-74, but the coach didn't call timeout as he had planned to.
Goodwin's cross-court pass was stolen by Chane Behanan, who dunked it for an 80-74 lead with 18 seconds that sealed the victory for the Cardinals.
"I'm coaching this young team, their job is to make it close at the end and my job is to give them a plan to finish it off," Calipari said. "They got us right where we wanted to be and I dropped the ball."
Point guard Ryan Harrow didn't buy Calipari's attempt to deflect blame from his players.
"I'm not going to blame Coach Cal because he's not the one out there playing," Harrow said. "We're the ones out there playing and we're the ones that didn't make the shots or didn't get the defensive stops. It's not on Coach Cal, it's on us."
Smith led Louisville with 21 points. Behanan added 20, and Peyton Siva had 19.
Kentucky's players deserve credit for making it close despite entering the game as underdogs.
Goodwin had 22 points, including 19 in the second half to help Kentucky rally. Harrow, meanwhile, provided more proof that the point is in capable hands.
The sophomore transfer from North Carolina State scored 17 points and had no turnovers in 39 minutes, marshaling Kentucky's second-half comeback that fell short to the Wildcats' in-state rivals.
Harrow assumed point guard duties for Kentucky, joining an impressive line including Marquis Teague, Brandon Knight and John Wall, all in the NBA. After starting the season opener against Maryland, Harrow missed four games due to an illness and attending to a family matter in Georgia. He scored just two points in each of his first three games back.
Saturday's performance comes a week after Harrow scored a career-high 23 in a win against Marshall. It also comes after the Wildcats spent two weeks at "Camp Cal," the nickname for the 7 a.m. workouts implemented early this month after Kentucky's loss to Baylor and a lackluster effort against Samford had the team at 5-3.
"The thing that we weren't doing, we weren't fighting," Calipari said of his team prior to the boot camp-like sessions. "There was no fight in the team. There was no sense of urgency.
"There was today."
Similarly, Calipari had no complaints about Harrow.
"I grabbed him after," Calipari said. "I said, `This is where I wanted you at the beginning of the year. Now, where do we go from here? How do we build on this?"
Louisville (12-1) entered the game forcing more than 21 turnovers per contest and had 15 takeaways on Saturday -- though none by Harrow.
"It was definitely pressure," Harrow said. "I've never played against a defensive team that rugged."
Poor foul shooting doomed the Wildcats' comeback. They shot just 11 of 23 (48 percent) from the line, matching their percentage from the field.
As might be expected from bitter in-state rivals, the early minutes were physical and intense with six ties and five lead changes. There were lineup changes for both teams.
Kentucky started 7-foot freshman Willie Cauley-Stein alongside 6-10 Nerlens Noel for the first time in an effort to establish a post game against the Cardinals. The Wildcats' move might have been a pre-emptive one with Louisville expected to start 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng, who returned from a seven-game absence with a broken left wrist.
Kentucky led 18-12 following an 8-0 run helped by Harrow's careful ballhandling that forced the action inside. Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer added 3-pointers as the Wildcats were 7 of 15 from the field at the 10:13 mark.
A follow dunk by Nerlens Noel (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Harrow's 3-pointer tied the game at 25 with 4:02 remaining in the first half, but those were Kentucky's last field goals before intermission. Louisville closed with an 11-4 run for a 36-28 lead in a half in which it shot 15 of 31 (48 percent) and scored 22 points in the paint.
Harrow's nine first-half points led Kentucky, which closed the half 3 of 12 from the field and shot just 10 of 27 (37 percent). The Wildcats' struggles continued into the early minutes of the second half including a technical foul, a shot clock violation and consecutive turnovers.
But the Wildcats settled down and cut into the Cardinals' lead before falling short at the end.
Harrow acknowledged the lofty expectations that come at Kentucky, especially on the heels of last year's team that lost just two games en route to the national championship. Despite Saturday's loss, the Wildcats believe they're capable of meeting those expectations.
"We're supposed to the team making history and doing things and it's kind of the other way around," Harrow said. "We need to step up as a team and try to finish this season out strong. It's not like a Kentucky team to keep on losing."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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