No rally for Western Kentucky in 81-66 loss to UK

Western Kentucky’s wild ride finally ended. Now, there’s just

one bus trip left to make.

Freshman T.J. Price scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half

to help Western Kentucky get off to a hot start before top-seeded

Kentucky put on a staggering display of athleticism in an 81-66

victory Thursday night to end the Hilltoppers’ seven-game winning


”We were counted out long before today,” Hilltoppers coach Ray

Harper said. ”We feel like the Globetrotters. We’d play, get on

the bus and travel to the next city. But it was a great group. The

future’s bright.”

Terrence Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Doron Lamb

scored 16 for Kentucky, which is expected to contend for its eighth

national title.

On a day when Syracuse nearly became the first No. 1 seed ever

to lose to a 16, the Wildcats (33-2) clearly relished their growing

role as favorites. Freshman and player of the year candidate

Anthony Davis added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for

Kentucky, which was never seriously threatened.

”I’ve got a good team and good players,” said Kentucky coach

John Calipari, who never mentioned the Orange’s struggles against

UNC-Asheville to his team. ”Let’s worry about us playing as well

as we can play, if that’s not good enough, then it’s done.”

The Hilltoppers (16-19) came in as a 26-point underdog, by far

the longest of long shots in this round, after a series of

comebacks that culminated with Tuesday night’s NCAA-record 16-point

rally in the final 5 minutes over Mississippi Valley State with

President Barack Obama in attendance.

Before that, they won their final two regular season games and

four games in four days at the Sun Belt Conference tournament after

dealing with a coaching change earlier this season when Ken

McDonald was fired after a 5-11 start for Harper.

”Sometimes we didn’t really know we were going to get through

it,” Price said. ”We came together; we became a family as a


The Wildcats quickly made sure Bradley remained the only

sub-.500 team in history to win twice in the tournament when it

accomplished the feat in 1955 in a 24-team field. Even so, Harper

and the Hilltoppers made the most of the spotlight over the last

three days.

”They went up versus the No. 1 team in the country, and they

didn’t back down a step,” Harper said. ”I’m excited about where

we’re going.”

The Wildcats, the No. 1 overall seed playing out of the South

Regional, began overwhelming Western Kentucky late in the first

half, taking advantage of a team that acknowledged before the game

it was probably running on fumes.

That didn’t mean the Hilltoppers didn’t keep it entertaining


Kentucky raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first 3 minutes before

Western Kentucky answered with 12 straight points, capped by

Price’s deep 3-pointer over Miller.

Then, Kentucky began to pull away.

Marquis Teague, who finished with 12 points, hit a jumper, Jones

followed Teague’s miss with a follow-up slam and Lamb made a 3 from

the left corner that put Kentucky ahead 45-26.

The Hilltoppers went the final 4:33 of the first half without a

field goal, culminating with Davis blocking Teeng Akol’s 3-point

attempt just before the halftime horn.

Western Kentucky, which got 13 points apiece from freshman

George Fant and Kahlil McDonald and 12 from freshman Derrick

Gordon, went on to shoot 39.7 percent, compared to 55.6 percent by

the Wildcats with Jones and Davis scoring in bunches down low.

Western Kentucky, which once beat Kentucky in the 1971 NCAA

tournament on the way to its only Final Four appearance that was

later vacated by the NCAA because of rules violations, still took

pride in its effort against the rested and ready Wildcats.

”We kept fighting to the very end,” Fant said. ”We didn’t

give up like we haven’t all year.”