The Kentucky Wildcats were 1-for-11 from the three-point line and were being out-rebounded 22-14 by Arizona State in the opening half of play. It looked like the perfect recipe for an upset of fifth ranked Kentucky.
Second Half Three Point Barrage Propels Kentucky
The second half gave the Wildcats life as they hit 6 of 10 from beyond the arc to ignite a 22-12 run to begin the half. Kentucky also used a barrage of blocks to keep the Sun Devils from scoring, which would allow the 'Cats to run away with the game. The big men of Kentucky showed up for the most part, combining for 27 points and 14 rebounds. The only problem was that those stats spread across three out of four bigs.
Skal Labissiere needed to show that he is still one of Kentucky's biggest assets, but he was unable to step up. Labissiere had zeros across the board and fouled out of the game after playing just 13 minutes. The inability of Labissiere to adapt to the college level could become a big problem as Kentucky starts conference play.
In the first half another big for Kentucky, Alex Poythress, gave everyone a scare going to the locker room with a hyper-extended knee. Poythress returned to the game after half time; the entire Big Blue Nation let out a sigh of relief.
Kentucky's defense has looked like one of the better in the country, only allowing more than 70 points in one game all season. This is their second game with the opponent under 60 points, showing just how much they are able to pressure their opposition.
Photo by Andy Lyons - Getty Images
Key Player Statistics
Jamal Murray- Murray scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half and hit 7 of 8 free throws. The freshman point guard continued his shooting woes though, only hitting 4 of 13 from the field and 2 of 6 from downtown. Still, Murray became the spark for the 'Cats as he hit some big shots at key moments.
Marcus Lee- It's safe to say Lee is the energy this Kentucky team feeds off. The junior had 14 points and seven rebounds. He also matched his career high for the second straight game with five blocks.
Tra Holder- He may not have shot the ball well, but the guard caused Kentucky problems all game long. He finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. His ball movement was key to the Sun Devils' offense.
Kodi Justice- Justice hit contested shots over some of Kentucky's better defenders. It's a mystery why Arizona State didn't go to him more often. He ended with 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting.
Next For Kentucky
The Wildcats move to 9-1 after defeating one of the more experienced teams in the country, proving youth isn't always a terrible thing. Kentucky will now get a week off, before facing Ohio State. That will give them some time to work out the chinks in their armor.
#5 Kentucky - Ohio State 12/19/15
Arizona State at UNLV 12/16/15