LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) — For the third time in as many marquee matchups, the No. 1-ranked University of Kentucky basketball team was too much for a high-profile, nationally ranked opponent.

This time, it was No. 21 North Carolina, which got All-American Marcus Paige going for some three-point shots in the second half, and it was a good thing. That was all that kept the Tar Heels close in an 84-70 UK victory in Rupp Arena.

"They were far superior to us defensively," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. ". . . We got it to nine and I thought we were going to be right there at the end, and then they told me they got five or six lob dunks, seemed like fifty of them to me."

Some takeaways from the game:

1). Willie Cauley-Stein, again, was the biggest difference between the teams.
Others may have bigger scoring or rebounding games, but nobody poses the presence that Cauley-Stein does. At one point, he muscled in a put-back, then as UNC moved to whip the ball back in bounds for a fast break, he stuck out his arm, corralled it and charged straight to the basket where he was fouled. There just aren't other 7-footers in college basketball, and precious few in the NBA, who can do that. He had the key sequence in the second half, with back-to-back dunks and a diving steal and timeout call that seemed to break the will of North Carolina, which hung around after trailing by 15 at the half. He finished with a team-high 15 points, four steals, two blocks and an assist.

2). In the absence of Poythress, several stepped up.
From a logistical standpoint, John Calipari's adjustment to Alex Poythress being unavailable for the rest of the season was to leave Trey Lyles in the game for the first two platoon rotations. In general, leaving Lyles in is a good thing. The freshman stepped up for 9 points and 3 rebounds, but his minutes weren't dramatically increased. Nor was he the only Wildcat who stepped up. Marcus Lee had his most productive game in a while, running the court well and going 4-4 from the field in 12 minutes. And despite those limited minutes, the Wildcats were plus-25 when Lee was on the court.

3). When Ulis is on the court, the team goes.
The lineup of Tyler Ulis, either Aaron or Andrew Harrison and Devin Booker is a slump-buster for the Wildcats. UK was plus-25 with Ulis on the court, and his speed and creativity seem to give the Wildcats the quicker pace Calipari wants — on both ends.

4). The shooting.
The Wildcats shot 56.3 percent for the game and 46.7 percent from three point range (7-15). Aaron Harrison broke out of whatever mini-slump he was in with three straight first-half threes, and nearly hit a fourth from Midway but it rimmed out at the first half buzzer. He finished with 14 points, his brother had 11 and Booker chipped in with 15 as UK's bench outscored UNC's 33-19.

There's more to come. Check back for Eric Crawford's column on UK's victory at
, plus a full report from Eric and Tom Lane tonight on WDRB News at 10.

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.