LEXINGTON, Kiev – Evansville fears neither Kentucky nor the venerable Rup Arena, where the Wild Cats were perfect in destroying visitors' dreams of seeming impossible.
Until Tuesday night.
Not only did Purple Aces No. 1 in Kentucky make a stunning 67-64 upset, they beat the bigger, stronger Wildcats in their own game. When it was over, players, coaches and their fans fired him into the corner of the famed court, making sure they enjoyed every lucky win.
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"To be here is a dream come true," said Evansville striker Second Soldier. "We took advantage and made history."
Sam Kunliffe scored 1
These expectations never materialized as Evansville (2-0) controlled the younger Wildcats from both ends of the floor.
KJ Riley added 18 points as Purple Aces, the coach of Walter McCarthy who won a national title with Kentucky in 1996, pulled off the biggest upset in program history with his first win over Team # 1 in three tries .
Evansville led much of the game and responded to every Kentucky rally with clutch baskets to take the lead and then maintain it for the biggest upset of the season.
Kentucky was 39-0 at home against unranked opponents without conferences when ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Poll. Meanwhile, Evansville won its first road victory over an AP-ranked team.
"Walter and their team deserved to win," said Kentucky coach John Calipari. "If we were to somehow get him out, it would be, kind of not even fair, because they were fighting the whole game and they were the tougher team.
" They executed, fired shots and 3s and free throws. My hat is down to them. It was difficult to do this in this building, but they were more ready to play. He prepared his team better than I had my team. "
Tire Maxi's layup with 8 seconds left Kentucky within 65-64, but Canleaf stepped to the line and calmly made both ends 1 and 1 as his teammates locked their hands on the bench. The purple aces raised their hands and ran. around the silent Rupp Arena after the final horn as the Wildcats slowly walked in.
Immanuel Quickley led Kentucky by 16 points and Maxey scored 15.
Kunliffe, a young redshirt guard who plays at Arizona State and Kansas, most of his damage by 15 points from the first half of the bench.
" It's amazing. You come to school like this, and you talk about doing that kind of thing and making history and playing in these bright lights, "said Cuncliffe." We have prepared the right way. We have set our minds in the right place that we can actually do it. This is surreal. "
Evanville won only 11 games last season, his first under McCarthy, who played in the NBA for 10 years and was an assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino – his coach in Kentucky – and in the NBA before return to his hometown to coach the purple aces.
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Evansville made nine of 30 3-point attempts while shooting 38% of the field to 37% of Kentucky. The Aces also outscored the Wildcats 38-35 and were only trimmed 30-28 in points in the fight.
"We started saying, OK, we're going to punch them in the mouth and not let them hit us. first in the mouth, ”Williams said. – After we started stopping, they started turning the ball, stuff. We saw this and took advantage. "