UofL CardBook | Top 5 Dream Games
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Top 5 Dream Games

08 Aug Top 5 Dream Games

By Joe Cox, UofL alum and co-author, “Fightin’ Words: Kentucky vs. Louisville”

Since 1983, when the Louisville Cardinals beat the Kentucky Wildcats to advance to the NCAA Final Four, the annual rivalry between the two schools is the hottest in college basketball. Here’s a top five of Cardinals highlights from the Dream Game:

#5 December 29, 2012

UofL 80, UK 77. The third-ranked Cardinals, led by a combined 40 points from guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, took down John Calipari’s Cats. Three months later, the team won UofL’s third NCAA Tournament title.

#4 December 27, 2003

UofL 65, UK 56. UK was #1 in the CNN/SI rankings, but the Cardinals invaded Rupp Arena and came away with annual bragging rights. Four UofL players scored in double figures in a balanced effort that was the Cardinals’ second win over a top-ranked opponent within the month.

#3 December 27, 1997

UofL 79, UK 76. When the Cards and the Cats get together, you can throw the record book out the door. In this game, one of Denny Crum’s weaker Louisville teams derailed Tubby Smith’s talented first UK squad. UofL reserves Eric Johnson and Tony Williams canned six three-point shots on their way to 36 total points. The Wildcats went on to win the NCAA Tournament, but the T-shirts of Cardinal fans reminded them that they were “#1 in the country, #2 in the state.”

#2 January 1, 1995

UofL 88, UK 86. Cardinal center Samaki Walker made history in this game. There have only been a total of five recorded triple-doubles in the history of UofL and UK basketball combined. On this day, Samaki nabbed one of them—with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. Walker’s defense and DeJuan Wheat’s 23 points tamed the Wildcats in a game to remember.

#1 March 26, 1983

UofL 80, UK 68 (OT). The first cut was indeed the deepest. In an NCAA regional final game played in Knoxville, UofL weathered an early Kentucky lead and pressured the Wildcats into submission in overtime. Before this game, UK refused to schedule UofL. After it, the game became an annual rivalry. Card forward Rodney McCray recently told the Courier-Journal, “If we don’t win that game, the guys on that team really believe in our hearts that Kentucky never would have started the series. They would have kept ignoring us. They couldn’t ignore us anymore.”