Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

The Joy of Beating Louisville


Picture by Getty Images

I don’t enjoy the Kentucky-Louisville game. In fact, in recent years I think it has been fair to say that it comes upon me with a heavy sense of dread. For me, when Kentucky plays Louisville there is simply too much at stake. When I made the fateful decision nine years ago to move to Louisville, a number of things immediately changed. The team that I once considered our greatest rival (Tennessee), the team that I thought had a fanbase that held us in the greatest contempt (Indiana) and the team that I wanted to see lose more than any other (Duke) all went out the window, and those three “traits of hate” combined to form around one school, the Louisville Cardinals. For if you live in the city of Louisville, or find yourself in a circumstance in life where you must deal with their fans on a consistent basis, the UK/UL rivalry can become a bit overwhelming. As with Auburn/Alabama football (the only rivalry in the same league), obsession over this game and this series in the city of Louisville is a 365 day, all-encompassing affair that dominates the entirety of sports conversation no matter the setting or forum (this is especially true if you happen to host a daily sports radio talk show in said city as well). It so drives the yearly city chatter, that when the day of the game finally arrives and the two teams actually hit the court, it can almost seem like too much is at stake. All this talk, all this hype, all this anticipation…and in two hours it is over. It is slightly overwhelming.

Thus while I get virtually no joy out of the actual game itself, when it is over and Kentucky comes out on top, the sense of relief/elation after a win is exhilarating. At no time during the regular season series between the schools was this more true than yesterday. While the stakes were not quite the same as the 2012 Final Four or the 2014 Sweet 16 (when the two teams probably should be separated from having to play each other by state, or if necessary federal, law), for Kentucky fans it may have been the most “at risk” game of the regular season series in a generation. Kentucky is a team on a crash course with history. The question is not “if” this team is great…we know it is…the question is only how great and if it can have a historic regular season. No Big 5 Conference team since 1976 Indiana has ever gone undefeated in the regular season and only four (Larry Bird’s Indiana State, the UNLV juggernaut, Jameer Nelson’s St. Joseph’s team and Wichita State last year) have done it period that timeframe. And this Kentucky team’s most difficult obstacle on the path to that accomplishment was its in-state rival. To lose that game, in those circumstances, would be particularly brutal, especially because of the satisfaction it would give to the fan base of #L1C4. As is often the case for the favorite in this rivalry, the pain of a loss would have exceeded the joy of a win, and much of BBN felt the weight of that expectation.

But once the clock struck 4:20 on Saturday, more than just Darnell Dodson were thrilled, as the Cats got a victory that now turns the hype machine up another notch in the march towards history. The game wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it gave us two memories that will be a part of this rivalry forever. Tyler Ulis first gathered our attention with the stream of blood running down his face, but then followed it with 14 critical points and a domination of the game in the second half. Louisville then gave us a tremendous gift with the Chris Jones’s Flop for the Ages, that made him the internet’s whipping boy of the day. Both of these will join the Cedric Jenkins tip, Rex flying through the air, DA’s dunks, Patrick Sparks’s shuffle, Boogie’s elbow, Aaron’s three and many more images as moments that will be a part of our UK-UL memory bank. Kentucky legends are made in this series and what we saw Tyler Ulis do, after taking a shot to the eye that wouldn’t seem to fully heal (his bandage grew larger each timeout and he ended with three stitches after the game), will forever make him a household name in the Bluegrass state. His two threes were the moments that extended the lead and gave the separation that Kentucky needed to hold on to its victory. The Jones flop was a golden gift for the internet age and spawned countless bad jokes (of which I participated), gifs and re-enactments that will be with us for years to come, especially as the UL fan base falls farther and farther out of love with him. These moments, combined with the sight of a withered Pitino, sad Jennifer Lawrence, staring Willie and swaggy Calipari guarantee that UK’s second victory in three tries versus the Cards in the Yum Center will always be remembered fondly.

What happens next still remains to be seen. Conference play has no obvious challenger, but I do agree with many of the pundits that Kentucky will have a couple of road games in the SEC that will be closer than people predict and could lead to at least one defeat. Florida, LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia are not a murderer’s row of difficulty but at least one will come on a ridiculously hot shooting night and may require UK to play “crunch time” minutes at least once before postseason play begins. The ride through the SEC will be beset with contrived media controversies (the Calipari haters are already aggressively promoting an unnecessary Andrew vs Ulis debate), uninspiring halves (a Buffalo or Columbia home clunker will surely arise) and unparalleled hype from media ready to ride the “Undefeated” train to its final moment. Kentucky will almost certainly finish the journey as the overwhelming favorite to win the 9th Championship and could potentially be in a “Greatest of All Time” debate. With only the Match Game-esque “HOW GREAT ARE THEY” question remaining, it should actually be one of the more fun trips through the SEC conference schedule in UK history.

But before we head down that road with the start of “Camp Cal” on Monday, take a minute to savor what just happened. This may have been the best non-conference season that Kentucky basketball has ever played. The Cats beat historic powers by historic margins, defeating Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina by a combined 87 points. They took down the #4,5 and 6 ranked teams convincingly, leaving no doubt in any of the games, which was the better team. They won games by nearly unprecedented margins, finishing only one in single digits. And they played defense on a historically great pace, crushing school and national records in the process. And oh yeah…they beat our biggest rival for the 7th time in the last 8 tries, on their home floor, playing their preferred style, at the tail end of their best run in their program’s history and they did it with room to spare. Even if the game itself arrived with a slight sense of dread, it ended with yet another example of the conclusion that has been reinforced every day since John Calipari arrived in Lexington. For as long as he is roaming the sidelines, Kentucky is college basketball, its biggest star, its most visible program, its proverbial elephant in the room and this year at least, its undoubtedly best team. This group clearly has the heart AND the hype.


(Photo by Jamie Rhodes…USA Today Sports

Article written by Matt Jones

14 Comments for The Joy of Beating Louisville

  1. ThreeGoggles
    10:22 pm December 28, 2014 Permalink

    Great post Matt! Man reading that gave me chills!! I freaking LOVE this team!!!

  2. Basteballer
    10:32 pm December 28, 2014 Permalink

    I was nervous leading up to game time but once the ball was in the air, I never felt like we could lose the game. This is such a fun team to watch. I really do feel like we are watching history unfold.

  3. BigBlueSkyDog
    10:33 pm December 28, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t enjoy this game anymore either. Mainly because Pitino has made a mockery of it by mucking it up with all the forearms, elbows, shoving, jawing that the Dirty Birds are famous for. Now we can also add flopping with extreme prejudice to the list. None of this was part of the mix until Cal arrived. I think Pitino has realized he no longer had the upper hand and started resorting to this crap. After watching the replay tonight, I noticed all kinds of cheap shots the Cats were taking every time they crossed through the lane, especially Ulis. Low rent and no clas starting with their coach. I dislike Duke and North Carolina but I still respect them. I have absolutely no respect for the Dirty Birds.

    • Casper
      1:27 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      This is disturbing…the Cards behavior is getting more savage…

  4. ClutchCargo
    10:46 pm December 28, 2014 Permalink

    Agree with the above comments. I was going through all the scenarios in my mind of how the Cats could lose, and none seemed plausible. Even thought the game was relatively tight the whole way, I never had the sense that we would lose. Just glad there were no real injuries on either side in such a rough game.

  5. KSR Spy
    11:53 pm December 28, 2014 Permalink

    “But once the clock struck 4:20 on Saturday, more than just Darnell Dodson were thrilled…”


  6. BTownUKFan
    12:06 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Agree with you Matt. I do not enjoy this game, I switched TVs, I turned the radio off, I followed the blog for awhile trying to affect the outcome of the game. I think I was standing in front of the second TV, with the radio on when Ulis hit his shots and I was able to hold my mojo through the end. I work in Louisville with lots of UL fans, some of good people, some are obnoxious when they win. But it is really sweet to remind them how much we own basketball in the commonwealth of Kentucky.
    GO CATS !!

  7. Hartline
    12:22 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Great to read UofL message boards after the win. They all are down playing the significance of this game both for this season and historically. They focus on having more wins and an equal amount of championships since the 80’s or whatever time period they choose. It really is quite silly. Especially considering we probably will be seeing them in the tourney every other year.

  8. kuhlkat
    12:58 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Great post Matt. You are a much better writer than you are a talker. I hope you DVR the games so you can watch them relaxed, knowing we won.

  9. ShepherdsvilleKAT
    7:05 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    “heart AND the hype”. I like what you did there!

  10. cathalchan
    7:53 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I think you summed up the feelings of a large number of Kentucky fans with this column. I live in western Kentucky, and have the same feelings about the game. Most of my dislike for the game is the way Pitino approaches it. For someone who is such a great coach, why doesn’t he develop a game plan that utilizes actual basketball skill to try to win a game as opposed to the mid 80s Georgetown style? The answer is obvious, he can’t. Going back to the 2009 game in which the game plan was to get Boogie thrown out before the game ever started and the players turning their backs to the UK team during the national anthem (not to mention the color guard), that has been the tone of the game during the Pitino-Calipari years.

  11. Ken Grizzle
    8:33 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Thanks Matt. I’ve been a fan since,as a 13 yr. old in 1958, I watched my first UK televised game when UK beat Seattle for their fourth title.

    Your passion for UK equals mine and many more like me who grew up with Coach Rupp and Caywood.

    I love your call in show and especially KSR. It’s my first visit when awaking and my last visit at night. You feed my passion.


    and thanks for coming to Ashland. I was at The Mattress Warehouse that day.

  12. klassact32
    8:40 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Matt just nailed my sentiments on this game exactly. I hate this game and dislike U of L even more with Pitino as the Coach. I also hate the football game as well. I to live in Louisville and hate going to work after a loss just because of how obnoxious the fans are. When we win we are told we were expected to so no big deal. There were two things I loved about the game Saturday other than the obvious win, first was the UK fans sitting directly behind Seth Davis all clad in blue. I bet Jurich and Ricky P will find out who those seats were belonging to. Loved seeing the blue so close. LOL. The other thing I loved was the “official attendance” was just 3 shy of setting a record. Really?!? you have got to be kidding. The number one team in all of the land, your most heated rival, playing the # 5 ranked team, both undefeated, and you can’t break the attendance record. Your telling me you can’t step outside and grab the three homeless people sharing the bottle of ripple. Good Lord Man. And they wonder why they are called Loserville!

  13. BluKudzu
    12:46 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I moved to Louisville, from Eastern Kentucky a few years ago due to my career. As a former athlete and graduate of The University of Kentucky, I will tell you there is definitely a major sense of pride when the ‘cats roll into YUM! And walk out with another W. The victory is for all of Kentucky. If Louisville wins it is only for a small minority of folks. The fans of the university of little brother will always be envious. They have no choice, once they lodged their allegiance to the city commuter school.

    It will not be long, mark my words, Pitino will leave Louisville, he is in a situation where he has to bow and scrape to his bitter rival. He will resign and move on, if he does not win it all this year. Supposedly his best defensive squad, ever. Really?

    Cardinal fans, break out those “Got Pitino?” shirts now. L yes.

    It was classless then. Just as little brother will always be.

    This was a Commonwealth win, as it should be.