LEXINGTON, Ky. — Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had season-highs with 24 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 3 Kentucky in a rough-and-tumble 69-62 victory over No. 4 Louisville on Saturday to extend the nation's longest home winning streak.
Fellow freshman Anthony Davis added 18 points, all in the second half, for the Wildcats (13-1) in their annual in-state rivalry game that at times looked more like a free throw shooting contest with 52 fouls.
The Cardinals (12-2) only led at 2-0, but gave Kentucky all it could handle after rallying from an early 15-point deficit before tying it in the second half thanks to Russ Smith, who had a career-high 30 points.
But Kidd-Gilchrist's hustle and Davis' emergence proved to be the difference with rapper Jay-Z, actress Ashley Judd and nearly a dozen NBA scouts on hand.
Kentucky has won 44 straight at home, including 43 in a row at Rupp Arena, for the nation's longest streak ahead of Duke's 43. This one will be remembered after the teams came in with the highest combined ranking in history.
With the game tied at 40 early in the second half, Louisville had a chance to take its second lead but Peyton Siva never hit the rim on an 18-foot jumper.
Kentucky went on a 7-0 run from there, with Kidd-Gilchrist hitting one of two free throws and making a layup on another trip before Davis got to the line and made four free throws over two possessions to make it 47-40.
Davis blocked Chris Smith on one end, then cleaned up Kentucky's fast break on the other to give the Wildcats a 49-42 lead. His alley-oop slam from Doron Lamb made it 56-48 with 6:40 left.The battles kept going after the whistle with Davis and Rakeem Buckles tangled up on an out-of-bounds play and Davis pleading for a foul.
On another one, Davis went flying into the crowd trying to make a save and landed on an older woman in the front row. Kidd-Gilchrist came over, screaming, "A.D.! A.D.!" with a smile on his face as he pulled his teammate back toward the court.
Kidd-Gilchrist's three-point play with 3:41 left gave the Wildcats a 61-50 lead, its first beyond double digits since the first half, and Kentucky was never seriously threatened for its third straight win in the series.
Gorgui Dieng, who entered the second half with one foul, picked up three in a span of 2:20 to head to the bench with 16:08 left, but seconds later, Kentucky coach John Calipari picked up a technical foul for his displeasure with the officiating.
Trailing 40-36, Smith hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Kidd-Gilchrist. He converted it to tie the game with 15:21 left, but Louisville never got over the hump after also rallying from an 11-point deficit before losing against No. 12 Georgetown for its first loss on Wednesday.