Walking out of Madison Square Garden in November Kentucky fans were strutting. The Cats had just beaten the #1 ranked Spartans. The season had begun and exceptions were running rampant through the rolling hills of the bluegrass.
How cool would it be if Louisville was ranked #2 when we play them on December 28th? Big Blue Faithful presumed the Cats would hold on to the #1 ranking well into 2020.
Then this season happened and so did Evansville, Utah and Ohio State.
December 28th has arrived and The Battle of the Bluegrass has happened. Rupp is the for #3 versus #19. To be noted…Louisville is ranked 3, Kentucky 19 and 2020 isn’t here yet.
The first half was nothing pretty to watch but yet exciting at the same time. There is a reason this game is one of the best rivalries in college basketball.
The first half story had to be Nick Richards. Richards was the fighter. He was dominant in the paint blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Maxey found his shot and introduced himself to Cardinal Nation by scoring 13 points in the first half.
Fouls mounted against Kentucky as the second half started with Montgomery, Maxey and Sestina all receiving their third and the biggest call was Richards receiving his fourth. Richards had to take a seat with 15 minutes left in the game.
Sestina picks up his fourth foul with 9 minutes left in the game at which point Calipari brings Richards and Montgomery back into the game as Cards took the lead 46-45.
The last three minutes of the game was a wait and see who was going to foul out first. Sestina is called for his fifth at the 2:43 mark.
The Battle for the Bluegrass came down to the last possession of the game. This is the definition of a rivalry.. Rupp was loud. The crowd was on its feet. No one headed towards the exits. Louisville ties the game with 10.6 on the clock. Kentucky ball. The ball bounces all around the rim but refused to drop. We are going to overtime.
The Cards pushed the lead to 3 which is followed by a Richards and one to once again tie the game. Richards gives the Cats a two point lead after free throw misses by the Cards.
RICHARDS-MAXEY, no other words needed!!
The performance of Nick Richards today may perhaps be the best single game performance by any player in Cal’s decade.
WE WILL FIGHT FOR THE BLUE AND WHITE, yes you did team, yes you did.
Final Score: Cats 78 Cards 70