Ohio 63

(6-2, 2-2 away)

(18) Kentucky 71

(9-3, 7-3 home)

    8:00 PM ET, December 30, 2005

    Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky

    1 2 T
    OHIO 40 2363
    #18UK 37 3471

    Top Performers

    Ohio: M. Green 16 Pts, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

    Kentucky: J. Crawford 23 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast

    Crawford, Bradley rescue Wildcats offense

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The ball left Ramel Bradley's hand with the right amount of spin but way too much speed, headed straight for the backboard with the game at a turning point.

    Smack. Swish.

    Bradley's banked 3-pointer from the top of the key started a final push by No. 18 Kentucky, which trailed most of the game Friday night before rallying for a 71-63 victory over Ohio in the Wildcats' annual trek across the Ohio River.

    Bradley and Joe Crawford had career highs, rescuing the Wildcats (9-3) from an off-night by their top two guards. Crawford scored 23 points and Bradley had 16 in an offense so stagnant at times that coach Tubby Smith furiously smacked his black leather shoe on the floor.

    "We really don't have a team that's going to just run away from people -- the big knockout punch," Smith said. "We've got to do it in so many different ways."

    They did it with two unexpected performances and that banked 3-pointer that Ohio (6-2) won't soon forget.

    "My plan was to stay in it until the end, then steal it," Bobcats coach Tim O'Shea said. "And we were doing that. Then the guy banks in the 3."

    Ohio led by nine points three times, leaving the Kentucky fans at U.S. Bank Arena fearing the worst. Bradley's momentum-turning 3-pointer cut it to 56-55 and got Kentucky revved.

    "I think I hit a shot before that and I was feeling good, so I knew I was going to pull up when I got it," Bradley said. "We were playing in Bank Arena, I guess, so I knew I had to bank one home."

    The Bobcats unraveled in the last 3 minutes. Rekalin Sims had a tip-in and a three-point play with 2:30 left that gave Kentucky its first lead since the middle of the first half, 60-59.

    "It was just a gut check for us," Sims said. "I'm really happy we pulled it out because for a second I was really scared myself."

    Mychal Green led Ohio with 16 points, all in the first half, when the Bobcats shot 65 percent from the field. They shot 34.6 percent in the second.

    Nothing came easy for Kentucky. Point guard Rajon Rondo was 2-of-4 for six points, and Patrick Sparks was 1-of-10 for three. And a timid front line failed to use its height advantage -- Kentucky got only four free throws in the first half and missed them all,

    "The big key is you've got to get there," Smith said. "Four times in a half is just terrible."

    The Wildcats made what was likely their final trip to the downtown arena where they have played a game each of the last eight seasons to reward their fan base in northern Kentucky. The contract to play at U.S. Bank Arena ends after this season.

    They have lost only once in 14 games at the arena -- Dayton beat them by two in 1999. Ohio was looking to repeat the feat, but the Mid-American Conference's top-ranked team lost its shooting touch down the stretch.

    The Bobcats used the game as a measure of how far they've come since the their last trip to town. Playing on Cincinnati's campus on Dec. 14, they imploded in the second half and lost to the Bearcats 86-58.

    In a short time, they've grown a lot.

    "I think anybody who watched this game would come away impressed that Ohio has a good team," O'Shea said. "To go toe-to-toe with them for 40 minutes, how can I be disappointed?"

    The Bobcats showed a lot more gumption this time, more than holding their own against a bigger lineup and a pedigree basketball program. Green went 4-of-5 on 3s -- two of them from beyond the NBA arc -- to keep Ohio ahead for most of the first half.

    Crawford matched him in a game of one-upmanship, also going 4-of-5 from behind the arc while equaling his career high with 14 points in the half. The sophomore had never made more than two 3s in a game.

    Smith gave his players three days off over Christmas, then decided they looked sluggish in practice on Thursday. A day later, they were still a step slow, even after a halftime rest.

    Jeremy Fears scored three consecutive baskets, one on a layup after he stole a halfhearted pass by Sparks, putting Ohio up 48-39 in the opening minutes of the second half.

    Fears stole another sloppy pass by Sparks for a dunk that made it 54-45 with 12:34 left, finally waking Kentucky from its lethargy.

    The game had special significance for Kentucky -- its 2,500th all-time. The Wildcats are 1,913-586 with one tie.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 63 71
    FG Made-Attempted 22-46 (.478) 27-63 (.429)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-19 (.368) 8-22 (.364)
    FT Made-Attempted 12-18 (.667) 9-16 (.563)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 9 9

    2005-06 Season

    » Dec 30, 2005 @UK 71, OHIO 63Recap