Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - James Young and Andrew Harrison each totaled 18 points, as No. 18 Kentucky used a second-half surge to pull away from No. 6 Louisville and post a 73-66 victory in the 46th revival of an intra-state rivalry on Saturday.
"That's what you come to Kentucky for, to play the big games," Harrison said. "It's a great feeling and it is an even better win, but we are always looking to get better. We never got down on ourselves and really showed heart. We knew we had to bring it to win this game and we did."
Julius Randle had 17 points before departing with an injury in the second half, and Aaron Harrison poured in 10 points for the Wildcats (10-3), who have taken three of their last four outings. Young and Willie Cauley-Stein pulled down a game-best 10 rebounds apiece.
A game-high 19 points by Russ Smith wasn't enough for the Cardinals (11-2), who suffered their first loss since a 93-84 setback to North Carolina on Nov. 24.
Chris Jones was the only other Louisville player in double digits, tallying 18 in defeat.
Smith connected on a free throw for the last of the game's seven ties, 53-53 with 8:45 on the clock, and Kentucky embarked on a game-deciding 15-5 run.
Young converted a layup then Andrew Harrison followed with a three-point play and another bucket before Luke Hancock's triple was Louisville's first answer.
Young followed with a shot from long distance, Aaron Harrison poured in a shot off the break, then hit again from in close to cap the surge at 68-58 with 4:04 to play.
The Cardinals only got as close as five in the final seconds.
"Shots just didn't go in for us when we needed them to," lamented Smith. "They were shots that we normally make. I guess this is just one of those games. It happens. We just need to move on from this and move on to conference play. We play UCF in three days, so we need to prepare for them."
Louisville led 8-0 in the early stages thanks to a pair of treys from Jones, but Kentucky moved on top with a 12-2 clip from there. Both teams played it close in the ensuing minutes.
Randle's slam off a Young miss provided Kentucky with a seven-point edge inside of five minutes left in the half and Cauley-Stein's bucket capped a 15-4 burst at 34-25 with 4:06 remaining.
Terry Rozier's triple pulled Louisville within 34-30 less than a minute later, but the hosts regained an eight-point edge before the Cardinals went to the break behind 41-36 after a Smith dunk.
Harrison opened up a seven-point edge for Kentucky on the first shot of the second half, but Smith's lay-in forged a 43-43 deadlock two minutes in. The visitors couldn't get over the hump and take the lead, however.