For points per possession allowed on defense, Louisville ranks 25th in the country, while Kentucky is 29th. "And again, it's because they're really, really good defensively".
Junior center Nick Richards scored seven of his 13 points in the overtime period to help Kentucky post a 78-70 victory.
Duke (11-1) played its second game in a row without point guard Tre Jones, who has a mild sprain of the left foot.
The Cards have not won at Rupp Arena in 13 years.
The difference between a blowout and an overtime win this time may have been that Kentucky doesn't have the killer instinct or the shooters to put the game away. "Trailing by three points with two minutes left, we had a lot of time and lot of possessions". His 27 points are the most by any Wildcat against Louisville (11-2) since Jodie Meek's 28-point performance in 2009. He has played in eight games for Kentucky, starting six of them, and he is contributing 7.6 points and six rebounds per game. 1 ranked Michigan State Spartans in the Cats' (9-3) season opener at Madison Square Garden wasn't enough, Maxey just added another breakout game against a ranked opponent to his résumé.
"He's good", Louisville coach Chris Mack said. "You could probably pick out a few plays down the stretch or overtime".
Were it not for the growing frustration with the lack of success in the rivalry, one would have to acknowledge that Louisville did scratch its way back from a 12-point deficit against a team with its back to the wall.
Maxey, a freshman guard, racked up 27 points to put his stamp on the biggest game in the state, shooting 9 of 14 from the field.
"They did a great job of pressuring the wings, especially Jordan", Sutton said. "They cut down the driving lanes and denied Jordan the ball".
Kentucky avoided dropping out of the rankings with a much-needed win.
After the Cards tied the game though, Maxey had a chance to seal the deal in the waning seconds of regulation.
Louisville will face off against in-conference contender Florida State on January 4, 2020 at the KFC YUM!
Kentucky (9-3) opens SEC play on January 4 at home vs. Missouri.
Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey reacts after making a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State early Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in NY.
Kentucky's EJ Montgomery, middle, shoots between Louisville's Lamarr Kimble (0), Dwayne Sutton (24) and Steven Enoch (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.