LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach John Calipari was so focused on coaching his team that he barely noticed star forward Julius Randle was on the bench being treated for cramps.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison knew he was there and their work in offsetting his absence on the court proved crucial in overcoming No. 6 Louisville. The identical twin freshmen combined for 28 points, including 11 during a critical second-half stretch with Randle sidelined, helping the 18th-ranked Wildcats earn a 73-66 victory on Saturday.
“It always hurts you when you lose a great player,” said Andrew Harrison, who went 6 of 16 from the field. “But at the same time, we all knew we had to bring it and that just means we all had to step it up a little bit.”
Randle’s 17 first-half points staked Kentucky (10-3) to a 41-36 halftime lead before the 6-foot-9 forward went to the locker room early in the second with leg cramps. He returned but soon limped to the bench with more cramps and spent the rest of the game on the bench.
The Harrison twins amply filled the void, turning a 52-51 deficit with 11:01 remaining into a 68-58 lead with four minutes left. Andrew Harrison and James Young each scored 18 points with Young adding a key 3-pointer during the 17-7 run that helped Kentucky beat its in-state archrival for the fifth time in six meetings.
“Andrew played incredible today down the stretch,” forward Alex Poythress said.
The young, talented Wildcats also earned their first win against a ranked opponent in four tries this season. This victory was particularly impressive coming against the defending national champions, who entered with significantly more experience than Kentucky’s squad featuring six high school All-Americans.
“I thought we grew up,” Calipari said. “We looked like a basketball team today. Here’s what was on the (drawing) board today: ‘Look like a team. Play like a team. Fight like a team.’ Those were the keys to the victory.”
No. 2 Syracuse 78, No. 8 Villanova 62
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Trevor Cooney scored 21 points, Tyler Ennis had 20 and C.J. Fair added 17 to rally Syracuse.
Syracuse (12-0) was the third unbeaten ranked team the Wildcats (11-1) had faced this season. Villanova handed then-No. 2 Kansas its first loss of the season a month ago in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis and came back the next night and defeated No. 23 Iowa in overtime.
Villanova dropped to 13-16 against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, the best mark of any team that’s played 10 games under the Orange’s Teflon roof, and 4-5 since Jay Wright took over as coach of the Wildcats in 2001.
No. 4 Wisconsin 80, Prairie View A&M 43
MADISON, Wis. — Sam Dekker had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his third career double-double as Wisconsin improved to 13-0 for its best start since the 1913-14 squad went 15-0.
Ben Brust scored 11 for the Badgers in their nonconference finale. Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes added 10 points apiece.
Montrael Scott scored 14 to lead the Panthers (2-10), who finished 1-8 on a nine-game road swing.
Playing for the first time in two weeks, the Badgers were a little rusty from 3-point range. Averaging 40 percent coming in, they finishing 9 for 27 from beyond the arc. However, everything else was working as they dominated at the free-throw line and in rebounding while committing just two turnovers.
No. 5 Michigan State 101, New Orleans 48
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Keith Appling scored 16 of his career-high tying 27 points in the first half to help Michigan State rout New Orleans.
The Spartans (11-1) struggled for several minutes before taking control with a 12-0 run midway through the first half. They led 44-27 at halftime and easily added to their comfortable cushion in the second half, finishing with their highest-scoring game since beating Nebraska-Omaha 110-68 two years ago.
Matt Derenbecker scored 16 points and Cory Dixon had 11 for the Privateers (3-5), who had won two straight.
No. 9 Duke 82, Eastern Michigan 59
DURHAM, N.C. — Jabari Parker scored 23 points and Duke cruised past Eastern Michigan.
Andre Dawkins added 20 points with a season-high six 3-pointers as a late replacement for an ill Rodney Hood in the starting lineup. Rasheed Sulaimon had 13 points and came up with the key hustle play during the decisive second-half run that helped the Blue Devils (10-2) polish off their fourth straight win.
They shot 40 percent against Eastern Michigan’s tough matchup zone defense with 10 3-pointers, built a 47-32 advantage on the boards and wrapped up the pre-ACC home schedule with their 101st straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
No. 15 Connecticut 82, E. Washington 65
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Shabazz Napier had 15 points and nine assists to lead UConn in a home game played 80 miles from campus.
Napier led a balanced attack in which five Huskies reached double figures. Ryan Boatright had 14 points and Niels Giffey, making his first start this season, added 13 for Connecticut (11-1).
Tyler Harvey scored 19 points to lead Eastern Washington (5-6), which trailed by just six points midway through the second half. Ognjen Miljkovic added 15 points and Drew Brandon 13 for the Eagles, who took 28 shots from 3-point range and made nine.
No. 17 Memphis 75, Jackson State 61
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Michael Dixon scored 14 points, Shaq Goodwin had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Memphis never trailed.
David Pellom had 12 points with all five of his field goals coming off dunks from fast-breaks and rebounds. Joe Jackson scored 11 for Memphis (9-2).
Julysses Nobles led Jackson State (4-8) with 20 points, despite going 6 of 16 from the field.
No. 21 Colorado 84, Georgia 70
BOULDER, Colo. — Askia Booker scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half, and Colorado finished strong to beat Georgia.
Spencer Dinwiddie added 17 points for Colorado and Josh Scott had 14 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double double this season and eighth of his career.
Colorado, which opens Pac-12 play next Thursday against Oregon State, made all 26 of its free throws, including an 8-for-8 from the line by Scott. All five starters for Colorado (11-2) scored in double figures, helping the Buffaloes remain unbeaten at home and match their best start since 1979-80, when they also began the season 11-2.
No. 23 UMass 69, Providence 67
AMHERST, Mass. — Derrick Gordon’s put-back with 1.1 seconds left in overtime lifted Massachusetts past Providence.
Gordon grabbed the rebound after a 3-point attempt by Trey Davis came up short. The Friars’ Bryce Cotton had tied the score at 67 after connecting from beyond the arc with 37 seconds remaining in the extra session.
Cady Lalanne led UMass (11-1) with 14 points and 11 rebounds with Davis and Sampson Carter each scoring 12 points.
Cotton finished with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists for Providence (10-3).
No. 24 Gonzaga 74, Santa Clara 60
SPOKANE, Wash. — David Stockton scored a season-high 21 points as injury-plagued Gonzaga won its West Coast Conference opener.
Kevin Pangos had 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting for the Bulldogs (11-2, 1-0), who have won 12 of the previous 13 conference titles.
Gonzaga was without starting forward Sam Dower Jr., the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, who was out with a back injury caused by a fall in a recent loss against Kansas State. Pangos, who was averaging a team-high 18.3 points despite dealing with a toe injury, also missed a stretch of the second half while receiving treatment.
No. 25 Missouri 68, N.C. State 64
RALEIGH, N.C. — Jabari Brown hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 55.1 seconds left to help Missouri beat North Carolina State.
Brown’s 3 over Wolfpack freshman Anthony “Cat” Barber was the biggest shot in a back-and-forth final 4 minutes that saw the teams trade the lead three times before Brown’s shot made it 63-62.
Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points to lead the Tigers (11-1), including two free throws with 20.1 seconds left that pushed the lead to 65-62.
T.J. Warren scored 24 points to lead the Wolfpack (9-3).
By wire sources