"There was no doubt in my mind we could beat them," forward Tony Williams said after the Cardinals defeated the Wildcats, 83-74, at Louisville's Freedom Hall. "We all knew we could do this. This is our house and we're going to protect our house."
Marques Maybin scored 19 points, including seven in a row late in the second half, as Louisville beat its intrastate rival for the second consecutive season.
Former Glendora High and USC point guard Cameron Murray had 14 points and 10 assists as Louisville (5-2), banned from postseason play by the NCAA earlier this year, won its third game in a row.
"This was a big win for our kids because everybody thought it was a fluke last year--and it probably was," said Louisville Coach Denny Crum, referring to last year's 79-76 victory at Rupp Arena. "These kids played their hearts out today and they played well."
Kentucky (10-3), which was coming off a 71-60 loss to second-ranked Duke, has lost two consecutive games for the first time since 1994.
"Louisville certainly played a great game and really executed when they had to," said Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith, who did not make his players available for interviews after the game.
"We had some breakdowns in our full-court pressure and they were able to capitalize. Their quickness hurt us and their pressure was very effective."
The Cardinals forced Kentucky into 18 turnovers and held the Wildcats to 46% shooting from the field, including two of 15 from three-point range.
Scott Padgett led Kentucky with 13 points, Michael Bradley had 12 and Wayne Turner and Ryan Hogan each had 11.
The Wildcats' trio of seniors--Padgett, Turner and Heshimu Evans--shot a combined 14 of 30 from the field and zero of seven from behind the three-point line.
"The key to stopping Kentucky was stopping the three seniors," said Louisville senior Alex Sanders, who had five points and nine rebounds. "We stopped Wayne Turner's penetration, Heshimu Evans' big plays and Scott Padgett's shooting."
After building a 75-60 lead with 4:56 remaining, Louisville failed to make a field goal the rest of the way. The Cardinals, however, made eight of 11 free throws to seal the victory.
"We made some mistakes and did a lot of things that make you scratch your head, but that's the nature of this team," said Crum, whose Cardinals shot 63% en route to a 47-40 halftime lead. "We played pretty darn good and if we could play that way every night, we'd be a pretty good team."
Kentucky lost only four games last season en route to its second NCAA championship in three years. The Cardinals finished 12-20, only their second losing record in Crum's 27 seasons at the school.