No. 5 UK escapes past No. 10 UNC behind Wall
Wall dominated at times while helping the Wildcats (8-0) build a 19-point first-half lead,then spent 20 anxious minutes in the training room after cramping up. It took a couple of bottles of Gatorade and a bit of teeth grinding by Wall to get back on the floor.
“I hate needles, I was back there having a fit,” Wall said.
So were his teammates, who almost let a big lead against the defending national champions get away in front of the largest crowd in Rupp Arena history.
“You guys are going to say I’m crazy, but I’m happy with the way it played out,” said coach John Calipari. “We let the other team come at us. We gave up way too many (3s) but I’m proud of my guys. We did what we needed to do. We had just enough.”
The win pushed
For a team whose motto is “envy our past, fear our future,” the first signature win of Calipari’s tenure proved his rebuilding job is well ahead of schedule.
“I hope it just gives people some respect for us that we’re a pretty good team,” Wall said. “We did what we were supposed to, come out with a win against a great team.”
“You’ve got to give them congratulations, they really kicked our butts,” Williams said. “They just ran us out of the gym.”
The Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak to the
“The definition of this team is that we are tough down the stretch,” Patterson said. “I still feel we have a long way to go.”
So do the
“We both showed our inexperience,” Williams said. “We showed it in the first half and I think they showed it a little bit in the second half.”
After Thompson’s jumper from the corner pulled
“I was kind of worked up too much early in the game, but as the game wore on I let the game come to me,” Bledsoe said.
A tip-in by Thompson pulled Carolina to 66-63, but Wall finished his breakout performance by calmly sinking two free throws with 4.3 seconds left. Graves hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer, and by then the Wildcats bench had poured onto the floor to celebrate.
Calipari said before the game he was anxious to see how his team responded when it got “punched in the mouth,” and still refused to say college basketball’s winningest program is back.
“We had 21 turnovers, a couple of times we had guys not knowing what they were supposed to do,” Calipari said. “Our execution really stinks right now.”
“We talked about slowing him down,” Williams said. “Boy, we didn’t do that.”
The win provided redemption of sorts for Wall, a native of Raleigh, N.C., who grew up wanting to play for the
It’s something Wall said he’s over, but Bledsoe knew better after listening to his roommate.
“That’s all he talked about when we’d go back to the room,” Bledsoe said of the days leading up to the game. “John wanted this game real bad.”