December 25, 2016

Defense has not been a problem for Louisville. Rarely is under coach Rick Pitino.

The questions for the Cardinals this season have come on the offensive end.

They answered a few against No. 6 Kentucky on Wednesday.

Attacking Kentucky's defense instead of settling for jumpers, No. 10 Louisville had its best shooting percentage (43 percent) from 3-point range this season to beat its biggest rival 73-70.

''Everybody was aggressive on offense,'' Pitino said. ''We have been, in the past, aggressive on defense, but I felt we were aggressive on offense.''

Louisville (11-0) has been stellar on the defensive end again this season, ranking fifth in shooting percentage against at 36 percent and 15th in scoring defense, allowing 60.3 points per game.

An inability to knock down shots, particularly from 3-point range, has led to a loss (to Baylor) and a few closer-than-expected games. Through 12 games, the Cardinals are 235th nationally from 3-point range, shooting 33 percent.

Louisville beat Kentucky by attacking, which opened up shots along the 3-point arc.

While many teams are afraid to go inside against Kentucky's length and athleticism, Louisville went right at the Wildcats. Though the Cardinals were average from the floor, shooting 43 percent, they hit the open shots on the perimeter, making 6 of 14 from the arc to win the biggest game on their schedule every year.

The win is likely to move Louisville up a few spots in Monday's AP Top 25, though the road doesn't get any easier, with games against No. 12 Virginia and No. 16 Indiana coming up this week.

''We were hoping to get on a little bit of a run here and get a few wins with this schedule coming in, this gauntlet coming, and we got one tonight,'' Pitino said. ''We got it by playing really good basketball and that's important.''

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ZAGS RISING

Gonzaga had a few questions heading into the season, with two players gone to the NBA and center Przemek Karnowski returning from a back injury.

This year's Bulldogs may end up being the best team coach Mark Few has had in Spokane.

Karnowski has been healthy and effective, transfer Nigel Williams-Goss has been superb at point guard and 7-foot freshman Zach Collins has provided a nice lift with Kyle Wiltjer now playing in the NBA.

Gonzaga (12-0) has wins over No. 18 Arizona, Florida and Iowa State, and broke the school record for best start to a season with its blowout victory over South Dakota State on Wednesday.

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HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Most players will take an alley-oop and dunk it with one hand. Kansas freshman Josh Jackson took the oop to a new level with this tomahawk dunk against UNLV.

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HART FOR POY?

Villanova's Josh Hart was among the preseason favorites to be the national player of the year. Through two months of the season, he may now be the front-runner.

Hart leads the top-ranked Wildcats with 20.1 points and is shooting 56 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range. He is averaging 6.6 rebounds and is second on the team with 44 assists.

Hart had 20 points in Villanova's rout of American on Wednesday that keeps the Wildcats (12-0) undefeated and, most likely, atop the AP Top 25 on Monday.

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FRESHMAN WATCH

De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky. Malik Monk has gotten more attention, particularly after scoring 47 points against North Carolina, but Fox has been just as good.

The freshman point guard had the second triple-double in Kentucky history against Arizona State and is the fuel that makes the Wildcats go. Fox fills up the stat sheet every game and is averaging 16.3 points, 6.8 assists and 5.0 rebounds. He had 21 points while Monk struggled to find his shot in the loss to Kentucky.

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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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