One game after its worst performance of the season, Kentucky put together its best. Sophomore guard Rajon Rondo scored 25 points, setting...
LEXINGTON, Ky. — One game after its worst performance of the season, Kentucky put together its best.
Sophomore guard Rajon Rondo scored 25 points, setting a career high for the fourth time this season, and the 23rd-ranked Wildcats rebounded from their most lopsided loss in 16 years to beat No. 4 Louisville 73-61 on Saturday.
Kentucky, which was in danger of dropping out of the Top 25 after a run of 87 straight appearances in the Associated Press poll, beat its rival in consecutive seasons for the first time since winning three straight over the Cardinals from 2000 to 2002.
“I know everyone in the United States, and especially in this state, talks about this game,” Kentucky center Lukasz Obrzut said. “It’s the most important game of the year.”
Louisville coach Rick Pitino — who restored Kentucky basketball to glory in the 1990s as the Wildcats’ coach — has a 34-3 record in December games during his five seasons with the Cardinals. All three losses have come to Kentucky. Pitino is 1-2 at Rupp Arena as the Cardinals’ coach.
The win — before 24,432 fans, the second-largest crowd in the 30-year history of Rupp Arena — was the 350th of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith’s career. He is one of seven coaches to have reached 350 wins in 15 seasons or less. His career record is 350-123 in 15 seasons at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky.
Kentucky (7-3) had lost two of its previous three games, including a 26-point loss to Indiana on Dec. 10. Smith juggled his starting lineup, inserting guard Joe Crawford, forward Sheray Thomas and Obrzut, and the move worked.
Kentucky wasted little time asserting its dominance against the Cardinals (6-1).
Taquan Dean had 14 points and six assists for Louisville, but was 5 for 16 from the field. Freshman Terrence Williams of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle scored five points on 1-for-7 shooting in 22 minutes.
Other Top 25 men
No. 5 Memphis 72, at Mississippi 49
Rodney Carney, Memphis’ sixth man, scored 19 points to lead the Tigers.
Memphis (8-1) never trailed, led by as many as 24 points and shot nearly 44 percent in winning its fifth straight game. Clarence Sanders led the Rebels (6-3) with 13 points.
Tennessee 95, at No. 6 Texas 78
Chris Lofton scored 21 points and Tennessee kept up its perfect early season run by handing the Longhorns their second straight blowout loss.
C.J. Watson had 17 points for Tennessee (6-0), which made 12 three-pointers, hounded Texas into 22 turnovers and routinely sliced through the Longhorns’ normally tough defense for easy baskets.
A week earlier, Texas (8-2) was ranked No. 2 and off to its best start in 24 years. Then came a 31-point loss to No. 1 Duke and then this.
P.J. Tucker had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead Texas.
At No. 8 Oklahoma 68, Southern U. 54
Taj Gray continued his resurgence with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Oklahoma beat Southern University.
Gray, the Big 12 preseason player of the year, averaged 10.3 points over the first four games but has averaged 20.7 points over the past three.
At No. 15 Geo. Washington 98, Maryland-Eastern Shore 72
Danilo Pinnock scored 18 points to lead five George Washington players in double figures.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu had 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Colonials (8-0), off to their best start since 1953-54 when they won their first 11 games.
At No. 16 Wake Forest 61, Princeton 42
Eric Williams scored 15 points and Justin Gray had 14 as Wake Forest bounced back from a rare home loss.
Trent Strickland had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Demon Deacons (8-2), who were beaten by DePaul on Wednesday night to end their 21-game winning streak at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
At No. 19 North Carolina 76, Santa Clara 58
Tyler Hansbrough scored 14 to lead North Carolina past Santa Clara.
Reyshawn Terry scored eight of his 13 points during a key second-half run for the Tar Heels (6-1). Freshman Bobby Frasor also had 13 points to go with five rebounds and four assists.
Travis Niesen had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Broncos (4-4).
S. Alabama 66, No. 25 Houston 62
Richard Law and Chey Christie each scored 12 points and South Alabama (7-1) beat Houston, the Jaguars’ sixth straight victory.
Top 10 women
No. 5 Baylor 85, at Army 68
Sophia Young had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Baylor (9-0) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 29 games against Army.
For Army (4-5), Cara Enright scored 28 points.
At No. 6 North Carolina 98, Coastal Carolina 41
Heather Claytor had 18 points, including six three-pointers, and North Carolina opened up a 61-point lead midway through the second half.
North Carolina (10-0) won its 25th straight home game and reached season highs for points and margin in the 57-point win.