top of page

ED PEAK: Cats & Cards Battle at Rupp Arena


There isn’t any way you can spin Louisville’s basketball season as anything but poor. This might be bottom. After losing nine straight, a brief two-game winning streak, then back to losing has Cardinal fans frustrated. Disappointed. Mad.


Former Cardinal player and Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne was hired to stop the losing after a 13-19 record last year. Payne warned Cardinal faithful to have patience. Patience. “I wish I had more time,” said Payne during the preseason Media Day festivities.


This Louisville team (2-11) is just getting use to Payne and his coaching. Now comes one of the most important games on the schedule, Kentucky, on Saturday (CBS, noon) at Rupp Arena.


If there was ever a time in this series that Kentucky (8-4) is a prohibitive favorite, it’s Saturday.


Payne spent 10 years on John Calipari’s staff as an assistant. He left in 2020 for the NBA and spent nearly two years with the New York Knicks.


Now when he walks into Rupp to the visitors bench where he will not be wanted as the head coach of “Little Brother” from down I-65. While at Kentucky, the Wildcats won a lot of games including the 2012 national championship.


One thing about this rivalry there haven’t been a lot of true upsets. Even though the Wildcats have lost two of its last three, including a hammering at Missouri on Wednesday. I just don’t know if this Cardinal team has the personnel to win this game.


Payne understands this rivalry. I’m not sure the players on this Louisville team do. There no players on this Cardinals team from Louisville or the state except walk-on Ashton Myles-Devoe from Versailles, Ky., and Zane Payne, Kenny’s son.


Kentucky leads the series 37-17 but there have been some close games. What most fans forgot is the Cards beat the Cats 62-59 in Freedom Hall in 2020. The teams did not play last year because of Covid.


Since 2012 Kentucky is 7-3 versus Louisville with eight of those games 10 points or less. While the Wildcats are a solid favorite don’t be surprised if Louisville keeps it close. Neither team has lived up to its preseason hype, especially Kentucky.


This is a rivalry that is usually closer than the experts think. I hope it will be because it will be a loss that Cardinal fans remember for a long time. I think Kentucky will be an eight- or nine-point favorite.


My prediction: Kentucky 74, Louisville 60.


Ed Peak has covered U of L sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Louisville Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

Edward Jones AD.jpg
TransAmerica.jpg
bottom of page