CRAWFORD | Ulis and Towns spark No. 1 UK past U of L, 58-50 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Ulis and Towns spark No. 1 UK past U of L, 58-50

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It was everything you'd expect. When the top-ranked University of Kentucky basketball team visited the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, it was the biggest heavyweight fight of the season in college basketball.

The nation's two-top rated defenses showed why. In the first meeting (other than a season-opener) between the two programs when both were unbeaten, the teams combined for fewer first-half points than the schools' football teams had picked up when they met late last month.

But when the time came to score, in the game's final 10 minutes, UK was able to hit the gas, and U of L wasn't. Tyler Ulis took the game over for about a three-minute stretch, and freshman 7-footer Karl-Anthony Towns made a couple of big plays to send the Wildcats past U of L 58-50 before a crowd of 22,812 in the KFC Yum! Center that included Academy Award winner and Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence.

UK led just 35-32 with 8:48 left in the game. But the next four minutes belonged to the Wildcats. They mounted a 15-3 run, with 11 of the points scored by freshmen Ulis, Towns and Devin Booker.

From then on, it was a dogfight, but U of L could never mount enough offense to make a serious run. With 1:32 left and U of L trailing by eight, Wayne Blackshear was fouled taking a three-pointer. After a timeout, however, he made just one of three from the line, and U of L couldn't get closer than eight — the final margin — the rest of the game.

The offensive futility for the Cardinals, and defensive excellence for UK, is worth a closer look. For an offense that already labored to get points, the mix of facing a defense as long and as good as Kentucky's was bad news.

"At some point, we were going to have to make some shots, and we couldn't," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. ". . . But I will say this. (UK) is one of the great defensive teams I've seen in my 40 years (in coaching.)"

The game's most amazing stat: Louisville had only one assist in the game, and none in the second half.

U of L shot just 25.9 percent for the game, and went 3-14 from three-point range. Guard Chris Jones finished with 13 points but went 3 of 15 from the field to get those. U of L's best player was Terry Rozier, who had 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds, but even he was 5-18 from the field.

Montrezl Harrell struggled to get looks against UK's post players all game, and his teammates didn't help him with their lack of ball movement. He finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds. Blackshear wound up with 10 points on 2 of 9 shooting.

For UK, Ulis was the hero. he finished with 14 points, while Karl Towns had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

The Wildcats shot 47.8 percent in the second half, to just 30 percent for U of L. Towns and Lyles had 9 rebounds each, as UK outrebounded the Cards 46-33.

Now the watch begins: Can UK go undefeated. The Wildcats aren't scheduled to face another ranked team until the NCAA Tournament, when they were almost certainly open play in this building, the KFC Yum! Center.

CHECK BACK FOR FULL COLUMNS FROM ERIC CRAWFORD AND RICK BOZICH, AND WATCH THEIR VIDEO REPORTS TONIGHT ON WDRB NEWS.

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