NEW YORK (AP) - Freshman John Wall scored a season-high 25
points, including 12 of Kentucky's last 15 in the game, and the
fourth-ranked Wildcats beat No. 14 Connecticut 64-61 on Wednesday
night in the SEC/Big East Invitational.
Wall lived up to his billing in his first appearance at Madison
Square Garden, overcoming first-half foul trouble and dominating
the game over the final 7½ minutes.
The Wildcats (9-0) moved John Calipari closer to one of the
icons at the school that has more wins (1,996) than any other
program. The only coach to have a better start to his career at
Kentucky was Adolph Rupp, who started 10-0 in 1931.
There were two totally different halves played in front of the
crowd of 15,874, which seemed split down the middle.
Jerome Dyson had 17 points for the Huskies (6-2), who finished
14 of 24 from the free throw line, including 2 of 4 in the final 3
After a first half of runs and big swings, neither team had a
lead of more than five points over the final 7 minutes.
Wall, the 6-foot-4 guard who has drawn raves in his freshman
year as Calipari tries to lead Kentucky back after two
disappointing seasons under Billy Gillispie, scored almost every
way possible in his game-closing spurt.
His three-point play on a breakaway dunk gave the Wildcats a
54-47 lead with 7:16 left. Stanley Robinson, Connecticut's
skywalking forward, finally became a factor for the Huskies,
scoring six straight points. When Gavin Edwards scored on a break
dunk with 4:24 to play, Connecticut was within 56-55 with 4:24 to
Kemba Walker, who had 12 points and six assist for the Huskies,
gave them their final lead of the game on a jumper with 1:12 left.
Wall put Kentucky ahead for good on a three-point play after he
drove to the basket that made it 63-61 with 30 seconds left.
Connecticut called two timeouts then went for the tie as Walker
drove and there was a tip by the Huskies as well. But Walker was
forced to foul on the rebound, and Ramon Harris made one of two
free throws with 13 seconds left.
Edwards missed a forced 3-point attempt, and Walker couldn't get
a shot off from the corner in time after coralling the rebound.
Patrick Patterson had 16 points for Kentucky, and DeMarcus
Cousins added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Kentucky had a start no coach can even dare dream about. The
Wildcats scored the game's first 12 points and Connecticut coach
Jim Calhoun used two 30-second timeouts before the 16-minute media
Wall lived up to his billing in his first appearance at Madison
Square Garden, stealing the ball twice to lead to Kentucky baskets,
throwing down a thunder dunk on the break, hitting a jumper and
then scoring on a drive to cap the opening run.
The Connecticut fans had their chance to make some noise in a
hurry. After going 4:18 without a point, the Huskies were on a 10-0
run of their own as Dyson starting getting inside for good looks.
Unlike the Wildcats, the Huskies didn't let up.
Connecticut took its first lead at 19-18 on a free throw by
Dyson with 8:17 left, and the Huskies kept it up, going ahead 26-18
on a drive by Walker with 6:30 left. That completed a 26-6 run
during which Wall picked up his second foul with 7:56 to go. He
didn't return the rest of the half, which finished with Connecticut
Cousins 4-10 2-4 10, Patterson 6-15 3-3 16, Miller 1-7 0-0 2,
Wall 10-16 4-4 25, Bledsoe 2-6 0-2 4, Dodson 2-4 0-0 5, Harris 0-4
1-2 1, Stevenson 0-1 0-0 0, Orton 0-0 1-2 1, Harrellson 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals 25-64 11-17 64.
Robinson 3-9 4-4 10, Oriakhi 2-4 0-1 4, Okwandu 0-0 0-0 0, Dyson
5-12 6-10 17, Walker 5-14 2-5 12, Beverly 1-1 0-0 2,
Coombs-McDaniel 0-1 0-0 0, Trice 0-0 0-2 0, Edwards 7-10 2-2 16.
Totals 23-51 14-24 61.
Halftime-Connecticut 29-23. 3-Point Goals-Kentucky 3-12 (Wall
1-1, Patterson 1-2, Dodson 1-3, Harris 0-2, Miller 0-4),
Connecticut 1-6 (Dyson 1-2, Robinson 0-1, Edwards 0-1, Walker 0-2).
Fouled Out-Bledsoe, Orton. Rebounds-Kentucky 34 (Cousins 10),
Connecticut 42 (Robinson 9). Assists-Kentucky 9 (Bledsoe 4),
Connecticut 11 (Walker 6). Total Fouls-Kentucky 23, Connecticut 18.
-- Kentucky is now 9-0 on the season. UConn falls to 6-2.
-- UK is 1-1 against the Huskies.
-- Kentucky is 164-70 against the Big East.
-- The Wildcats are 10-3 all-time in Madison Square Garden.
-- UK is 39-16 in the New York metro area.
-- UK’s 9-0 start is its best start since opening the 1993 season 11-0.
-- Kentucky returns to action on Saturday in its first true road game, traveling to Blooming, Ind. to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Tip-off is scheduled for noon with the game being televised on CBS.
Team game notes
-- The Wildcats used the starting combination of Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller, Patrick Patterson and John Wall for the fifth straight game. Kentucky is 8-0 with that starting five.
-- Kentucky played it is road blue uniforms for the first time this season.
-- UK won the opening tip. The Wildcats have on the opening tip eight times this season.
-- Ramon Harris was the first sub off the bench for Kentucky. It was his fourth time this season to be the first Wildcat off the bench.
-- Kentucky opened the game on a 12-0 run.
-- The Wildcats didn’t allow UConn a point until the 15:42 mark of the first half.
-- UK trailed 29-23 at the half. It was the third time this season the Wildcats have trailed at halftime. UK is 3-0 when trailing at the half.
-- UK extended its string of 720 consecutive games making a three-pointer.
-- This was the first time Kentucky had two players foul out this season.
-- The win was number 1,997 for UK, the winningest team in college basketball.
Individual game notes
#11 John Wall
-- Scored in double-digits for the eighth straight game
-- Tied career high with six steals
-- Six steals ties for third most by a UK freshman.
-- Has 15 steals in last three games
-- Recorded his fourth 20-point game this season
#15 DeMarcus Cousins
-- After tallying no points and three rebounds in the first half, recorded 10 points and seven rebounds in the second half to finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the game and his fourth double-double, tying Patrick Patterson for most on the team and most in the SEC.
#24 Eric Bledsoe
-- Fouled out for the first time this season.
#33 Daniel Orton
-- Fouled out for the second time this season
#54 Patrick Patterson
-- Moved to 42nd on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,166 points
-- Scored in double-digits in four straight games and eight of nine games this season.