LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Angel McCoughtry and Yuliya Tokova made sure Louisville's appearance in the Top 25 wouldn't be a cameo.
McCoughtry scored 21 points and had a career-high 15 rebounds while Tokova added 20 points and nine boards to lead No. 19 Louisville to a 83-75 win over No. 24 Kentucky in front of a record crowd on Sunday at Freedom Hall.
The Cardinals third straight win against their instate rival upped their record to 8-0, the best start in school history. Heady territory for a program that had never been ranked until two weeks ago.
"We feel like we needed this game to validate that we were really that good," said Louisville coach Tom Collen. "We are a Top 25 team."
Samantha Mahoney scored a career-high 27 points for Kentucky (4-3). Nastassia Alcius added 14 points and Sarah Elliott chipped in 13 but the Wildcats shot just 36 percent from the floor and couldn't take advantage of 24 Louisville turnovers.
The Cardinals outrebounded the Wildcats 50-38 and made the big plays down the stretch. Kentucky pulled within 70-67 with just more than four minutes left, but McCoughtry hit an acrobatic layup and Tokova followed with a turnaround jumper and a pair of free throws to help Louisville open up a 76-67 lead. The Wildcats got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
"We answered the runs but we could never take the lead," said Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss.
Maybe that's because McCoughtry seemed to sense when things were slipping away for Louisville. She did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals, adding four blocks, five steals and perhaps just as importantly, zero turnovers.
"Wow, no turnovers, that's new," McCoughtry said.
So were the 12,342 fans who showed up, a record for a women's game at Louisville. Both teams seemed to feed off the atmosphere, playing energetic if somewhat sloppy basketball. The game featured 37 turnovers and 54 fouls. Four Wildcats fouled out, and the players said the constant whistles prevented either team from establishing any real flow.
"We'd try to get momentum, try to build it up, and then foul," said Kentucky guard Carly Ormerod. "It kind of hurt us."
The Cardinals turned the whistles into points, converting 29 of 42 shots from the free throw line. Kentucky went 14-of-21 from the line, a disparity that helped the Cardinals keep the lead in the second half.
"We need to practice our free-throw defense," DeMoss joked.
Still, the Wildcats had their chances. They drew within 60-59 with eight minutes left, and their defense smothered the Cardinals on their next possession, as the Wildcats swatted the ball out of bounds with one second left on the shot clock.
Louisville's Jazz Covington missed a jumper, but McCoughtry grabbed the rebound and was fouled, hitting two free throws to keep Louisville's lead intact.
The Cardinals came out firing, building an early 15-point lead behind the play of McCoughtry and Tokova. But the Wildcats rallied, consistently finding holes in Louisville's zone defense for easy shots. Mahoney was everywhere, hitting from both inside and outside, allowing Kentucky to pull within 42-39 at the half.
"I thought she played extremely well, especially at the start," DeMoss said. "She was our catalyst on the offensive end. She started out the game very aggressive and stayed aggressive."
It wasn't enough, however to stop the Cardinals, who found a way to win despite Covington -- the team's second-leading scorer -- being held to six points.
"We can't put everything onto Jazz's shoulders," Tokova said. "Everybody had to step up."
Kentucky has been ranked as high as 15th in the polls this season but will likely be out of the polls next week after losing for the second time in its last four games.
"It's a tough loss," Ormerod said. "It hurts for now, but we've got to move on."