Saturday, December 6, 2014

Big Men, Defense Lead Kentucky Past No. 6 Texas

(1) Kentucky 63
(6) Texas 51

Final from Lexington, Kentucky

Game recap by UK:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Willie Cauley-Stein had season highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds and made several defensive plays to key Kentucky's 18-2 run to open the second half, helping the top-ranked Wildcats beat No. 6 Texas 63-51 on Friday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Normally playing on the first of Kentucky's two talented platoons, Cauley-Stein began alongside fellow 7-footer Dakari Johnson and 6-10 Trey Lyles on the second squad and the big trio sparked the Wildcats' game-changing 8-minute sequence after a 26-all halftime tie.

They combined for the spurt's first 10 points before Cauley-Stein's tip-in provided a 44-28 lead with 11:20 remaining. That gave Kentucky (8-0) the cushion to hold off the stubborn Longhorns (7-1), who regrouped to close to 56-51 with 1:44 left before Cauley-Stein added a free throw and dunk.

Cauley-Stein's rebounding was a big boost for Kentucky, which was outrebounded 42-31 by Texas. Johnson finished with 11 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 10.

Jonathan Holmes scored 14 points and Demarcus Holland 10 for Texas, which shot just 30 percent in falling to 0-8 against the No. 1 team.

Things were nonetheless tense in a game featuring a number of subplots, including Kentucky guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison seeking big performances against their home state's marquee school. That didn't happen as the 6-6 twins combined for just seven points on 3-for-17 shooting, but Andrew Harrison hit a big 3-pointer with 2:47 left for a 56-47 lead that proved critical.

The Wildcats came away with another signature win following last month's 72-40 drubbing of then-No. 5 Kansas in Indianapolis. But beating the athletic and physical Longhorns required a lot of tweaks to Kentucky's platoons.

Complete Recap

Box score (click to enlarge):

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