Leading 36-28 at the half, the fourth-ranked Cardinals (12-1) opened the second half with a 15-6 run to lead 51-34 with 15:39 left. Just when it looked as if the Wildcats were going to run off and hide, however, UK (8-4) mounted a 10-0 run to close to 51-44 with 12:59 left. After several minutes of back-and-forth, foul-plagued action, the Wildcats closed to 65-62 with 4:59 left. But they got no closer. "It was a tribute to their young team that they came back the way they did," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of the Wildcats. "It was a great win for us, especially because of the foul trouble we were in. "We played great defense in the first half, but we had to back off in the second half because of foul trouble. We hung on because of key contributions from Chane and Russ (Smith)." Forty-two fouls were called in the game, 21 on each team. Louisville played the final five minutes with three players each having four fouls, and senior point guard Peyton Siva fouled out with 33 seconds left. Three UK players ended up with four fouls apiece. Louisville hit 17 of 25 free throws, UK just 11 of 23. UK freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein was 0 for 4 from the line, although he actually was 0 for 6 because he got to try two of his misses again because of lane violations called on Louisville. Kentucky's comeback was fueled by three-pointers. Kyle Wiltjer hit back-to-back threes that started the 10-0 run, and UK hit four treys in the final 2:01, three of them by freshman Archie Goodwin, including one with three seconds left that accounted for the final score. "Hats off to them," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "They played hard, they played aggressive. I let my team down. I told them before the game, 'Give it all you've got, get it close, and I'll figure out a way to win it.' Then we're down four with 33 seconds to go, we're coming up court with the ball and I should have called a timeout. I was telling myself, 'Timeout. Timeout.' But I didn't call it, and we threw the ball away. I dropped the ball. "But we played great. I really like my team. We're going to get better. They may have the best team in the country, and we were right there." When asked what play he would have called if he had called a timeout with 33 seconds left, Calipari joked: "A four-point jump shot." Goodwin, a freshman, led Kentucky with 22 points. He hit 8 of 15 shots, including 3 of 5 from three-point range. Point guard Ryan Harrow added 17 points, and Wiltjer had 14. He made 4 of 7 shots, all from beyond the arc. The Cats shot 58.1 percent in the second half after being held to 37 percent in the first half. They made 10 of 21 three-point shots (47.6 percent) and committed 15 turnovers. They held a 39-36 rebounding advantage. Smith, a junior guard, led Louisville with 21 points, 17 in the second half. He hit 9 of 20 shots and also had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Behanan, a sophomore forward, hit 8 of 13 shots, had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Siva had 19 points before fouling out. "They have two great guards in Siva and Smith," Calipari said. Siva's fifth foul came as Goodwin was making a three-pointer, and he hit the free throw to complete a four-point play and cut Louisville's lead to 77-74 with 33 seconds left. Smith then hit 1 of 2 free throws, and UK turned it over at the other end. The inbounds pass came to Gorgui Dieng, who found Behanan loose on a run-out, and he slammed it home, sealed with a kiss, to make it 80-74. Louisville shot 48.4 percent, 42.9 percent on treys (3 of 7). The Cards committed only nine turnovers. "Overall, I'm delighted," Pitino said. "We shot 48.4 percent on a very good defensive team, and we committed only nine turnovers. Our defense was good except for a couple of mistakes down the stretch when a player went to the wrong side of our zone and left a three-point shooter wide open. We also did a good job on Nerlens Noel. He's a terrific player." Noel, a 6-foot-10 freshman who was rated the top recruit in the nation last year and is projected as a No. 1 or 2 NBA draft pick, had eight points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The first half was a back-and-forth affair until the Cardinals took command with a 13-4 run to lead the lead for good at 25-20 with 6:14 left. UK closed within 30-27 with 2:39 left, but Louisville finished the half with a 6-1 run to lead 36-28. NOTES: Dieng returned to Louisville's lineup after missing seven games with a broken left wrist suffered Nov. 23 against Missouri. The 6-11 junior was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and two blocks before he was injured. He didn't start but entered 1:47 into the game. He played with a wrap on his wrist and finished with six points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a big assist, the pass that led to Behanan's dunk.
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