By LARRY VAUGHT
Unbeaten Kentucky will host No. 7 Louisville Sunday afternoon in Rupp Arena and UK coach Matthew Mitchell knows what a challenge his team will face against the Cardinals, who are now annually one of the nation’s top teams under coach Jeff Walz.
Northern Kentucky coach Camryn Whitake, a former UK assistant, got to see plenty of the Cardinals when her team lost 85-57 to visiting Louisville last Sunday. The Norse trailed only 37-35 at halftime but were blitzed 31-9 in the third quarter.
“I don’t know if many teams in the country have Louisville’s size and athleticism,” Whitaker said. “They looked that way on film but in person it was just , ‘Wow.'”
Louisville was without 5-10 freshman guard Norika Konna of Japan who was out with an injury against Northern Kentucky. But with her Whitaker thinks the Cards could be one of the nations’ two best teams.
“They were every bit as good as I thought, or maybe better,” Whitaker said on WKYB-FM Thursday morning. “Last year we played Louisville and they were really good. But this year they have such good balance.”
The Cardinals had 10 players play 10 or more minutes against Northern even with Konna out. Whitaker says Dana Evans is an elite point guard as is Jazmine Jones, Louisville’s second leading scorer behind Evans.
“Then they are so big and strong down low. We got outrebounded by 22,” Whitaker said. “When they rebound and get out and run in transition they are just really hard to stop. Their athleticism and size just finally took over. Then the pressure they put on you with their defense can turn you over quickly and they sure did that to us. But they do it to just about everybody they play.”