LEXINGTON, KY – Nick Richards did whatever heavy lifting No. 19 Kentucky needed against rival Louisville, intensity that put him on the brink of fouling out.
He eventually harnessed his energy into clutch contributions on both ends of the floor and celebrated big stops in the Wildcats' much-needed victory by punching the air.
Richards had 13 points, including seven in a row in overtime, and Kentucky scored the final eight points for a 78-70 victory over No. 3 Louisville on Saturday in a thrilling Bluegrass rivalry showdown.
Louisville led 68-65 on Jordan Nwora's 3-pointer with 2:20 left before Richards converted a 3-point play and added a layup to make it 70-68 with 1:23 remaning. The junior forward added two more foul shots for a 72-70 lead before Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey provided a six-point cushion from the line. Ashton Hagans' dunk with 4.9 seconds left sealed the tense win for the Wildcats (9-3) before 20,437 at Rupp Arena.
“I just played smarter," said Richards, who also had 10 rebounds, a block and took a couple of charges in the extra session. “I noticed that when they were driving on me they were lowering their shoulders on me, so I just tried to take charges on those.
Ï was really happy that they called those charges. If he (the official) had called a block, I don't know what would have happened."
While Richards provided the post presence, Maxey helped out with big baskets.
The freshman guard's free throws capped a career-best 27-point performance that topped his previous high by one in his collegiate debut against top-ranked Michigan State. For a while he seemed destined for all the praise with clutch shots during a back-and-forth second half before his teammate picked up the load in the extra session.