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Video: Coach Kenny Payne and Cardinals El Ellis/Mike James —

PDF box score and postgame notes are attached.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Louisville men’s basketball struggled on the boards Saturday and couldn’t contain a formidable Kentucky duo, falling 86-63 in the road rivalry matchup.

The Cardinals (2-12) were outrebounded 33-20 and didn’t have an answer for Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Jacob Toppin (24 points, seven rebounds).

“I want these young men to know that this state, these two programs, represent something,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “There’s a pride in wearing that jersey. I didn’t avoid it. I wanted them to know that we’re playing one of the best teams in the country. … When you’re playing a team like that, the No. 1 thing that jumps off is the physicality of the game, the toughness of the game, the fight that you have to have to win a game, the rebounding. They scored 20 points on offensive rebounds and 19 points off our turnovers. You can’t win. You have to match their intensity.”

Senior guard El Ellis had 23 points and a career-high four steals for the Cardinals, but No. 19/17 Kentucky (9-4) shot 60% from the field for the game and totaled 20 second-chance points.

The Wildcats led wire-to-wire, jumping out to an 18-4 advantage early until Louisville stopped the bleeding.

Louisville pulled back within eight at 30-22 on a bucket by Ellis with 6:14 left in the half, but Kentucky countered with a 9-0 run to pad the cushion again. The Cardinals trailed 45-30 at the break.

“Basketball is a long game,” Ellis said. “Teams are going to go on runs, so you’ve got to be able to withstand their runs, focus in and get on a run of your own. When times get tough, we’ve got to come together more and continue to fight.”

Louisville surged out of halftime with a 7-0 run, trimming the deficit again to eight at 45-37 with 18:32 to play on a pair of Ellis free throws.

Kentucky once again had a response, rattling off an 11-2 spurt as UofL committed five turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Wildcats’ lead swelled as large as 27 with 3:17 to go.

“We’ve just got to think a next-play mentality,” redshirt freshman guard/forward Mike James said. “If we make mistakes, we’ve got to get back on defense and not make that mistake again.”

Sophomore forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield joined Ellis in double figures with 10 points. Freshman forward Kamari Lands and James added nine and eight points, respectively.

The Cardinals return to ACC play for the rest of the season with two home games next week, starting with Syracuse at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday at the KFC Yum! Center. The game will air on ESPNU.


Fans can follow Louisville men’s basketball on TwitterFacebook or Instagram at @LouisvilleMBB.

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