After a disappointing loss to DePaul on Thursday, No. 14 Kentucky (6-2) hits the road to take on No. 7 Louisville (7-1) on Sunday afternoon. The Cats and Cards renew their rivalry that did not take place last season due to COVID scheduling. Overall, Kentucky leads the series between the two schools 34-22. The last time Kentucky and Louisville faced off, the Cardinals held on for a 67-66 victory at Rupp Arena in what was an amazing game to watch.
Kentucky will have the services of Dre’Una Edwards once again following her one game suspension that kept her out of Thursday’s matchup against the Blue Demons. Jada Walker stepped up nicely in her place, but it was clear the Wildcats were missing Edwards’ shooting threat as Kentucky did not make a single three-point attempt without her. Edwards is second on the team in PPG and first on the team in FG%. With Edwards back on the court for the Cats, Kyra Elzy and the staff should feel more comfortable about a better offensive performance outside of the paint.
Even with Edwards back in the lineup, scoring on the Cardinals will be no easy task. Jeff Walz‘ squad is playing some outstanding defense, holding opponents to an average of 46.4 PPG and just 24% from three for the season. Louisville‘a lone loss of the season came in their opener against No. 6 Arizona (8-0). That matchup was a defensive battle with a 61-59 final score despite an extra five minutes for the overtime period.
Since then, Louisville has played mostly overmatched competition outside of a top-15 matchup in the ACC-B1G challenge in which the Cardinals knocked off No. 13 Michigan (9-1) by a score of 70-48. Louisville put the game away by half, only allowing the Wolverines to score 15 points in the first two periods.
If Kentucky can find a way to score on Louisville, stopping the Cards on offense is not too daunting of a task. Kianna Smith, Louisville’s leading scorer, only averages 11.5 PPG and the team as a whole averages just under 70 PPG. These stats are encouraging for the Wildcats who have struggled to stop greater competition on the defensive side. In their two losses, Kentucky is giving up an average of 91 PPG.
The key to tomorrow’s game going to be defense. The Cardinals have proven they can hold tough competition to low values on the scoreboard. Kentucky has only proven as much against lower competition. Louisville’s offense does not pose the threat that Indiana’s or DePaul’s did, but that does not mean much until Kentucky can prove themselves on the defensive end of the court.