UCLA knocks off No. 7 Kentucky
NEW ORLEANS — Aaron Holiday took over on the court where one of his older brothers plays and led UCLA to an 83-75 upset of No. 7 Kentucky in the second game of the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday in the Smoothie King Center.
Jrue Holiday plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, who were in Miami while the Bruins were improving to 9-3. A third brother, Justin, plays for the Chicago Bulls.
“It’s always special when you can play where your brother’s played,” Aaron Holiday said. “But just to get the win out here, it’s just awesome to say. I would rather him be at the game, but, obviously, he’s playing right now so he couldn’t do that.”
Kris Wilkes matched Holiday’s 20 points, Jaylen Hands scored 14, Thomas Welsh had 13 and Price Ali scored 12.
Hamidou Diallo led the Wildcats (9-2) with 18 points, Wenyen Gabriel scored 16 and Kevin Knox had 15.
No. 5 North Carolina defeated Ohio State 86-72 in the first game of the doubleheader.
Kentucky trailed for most of the second half, but got within four points on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s basket from the lane with 57 seconds left.
The Wildcats chose not to foul and Holiday found an opening in the defense to score on a drive with 31 seconds left.
G.G. Goloman made a steal and Holiday was fouled. He made both ends of a one-and-one to secure the victory.
“We showed great poise,” Holiday said. “At the end of the game, it was like maybe two minutes left and all I kept saying was we got 30 seconds, so we just got to take care of the ball and run the shot clock all the way down and we’ll be in good shape, so that’s what we did.”
The score was tied at halftime and once early in the second half, but UCLA (9-3) took the lead for good at 54-52 when Welsh made a jumper with 13:47 left.
Gabriel made consecutive 3-pointers for Kentucky, but Welsh’s 3-pointer started a 10-0 run that gave the Bruins a 71-59 lead midway through the half.
“I loved our start to the second half,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We started the second half really well, got up and then they made a run. And then we made another run. Then we were able to finish. It’s not an easy team to finish because they are long and athletic and things can seep back in.”
P.J. Washington’s three-point play stopped the run and the Wildcats got within 71-66 before Ali made a tip-in.
Washington’s tip-in started a run that got Kentucky within 73-69 with three minutes remaining, but Holiday had an answer each time the Wildcats got close.
“I think sometimes, as much as you hate to say it, you got to get knocked in the mouth and lose and it’s got to hurt every player and then they start figuring out, OK, not going to be able to play the way I want to play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “We tried to make the hardest plays when we were in the guts of the game.
“Today we played a team that wanted the game worse than we wanted it. This is usually what happens. One team wants it more than the other, one team’s willing to fight, one team has a spirit about them, they’re bouncier, they’re diving for balls, they’re playing with more emotion, you are losing that game. So we deserved to lose it.”
NOTES: UCLA was playing its first game since it extended the suspensions of freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill for the rest of the season as punishment for their arrest for shoplifting while in China for a tournament earlier in the season. ... Kentucky had won its last seven games. ... This was the third meeting between the two teams in a little more than 12 months. The Wildcats won the last two, including an 86-75 triumph in the Sweet 16 in March.