College basketball has its first big upset of the season as the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats lost to Evansville 67-64 on Tuesday.
The game ended with an airball on a game-tying 3-point attempt from star freshman Tyrese Maxey, directly after Evansville guard Sam Cunliffe iced two free throws to keep Kentucky at bay.
Evansville was predictably amped in the locker room after the game. The man in the middle of the celebration: head coach Walter McCarty, an All-SEC member of Kentucky’s 1996 championship team.
evansville basketball is back pic.twitter.com/yT933bIZ8R
— Harry Lyles Jr. (@harrylylesjr) November 13, 2019
The Wildcats’ troubles began when Evansville went on a 9-0 run to take a 24-16 early in the game. That lead held through halftime, but a Kentucky comeback gave the Wildcats a lead midway through the second half. Evansville rallied from there as Kentucky went flat on offense, dooming them to a shocking loss.
Overall, Kentucky went a rough 20-of-54 from the field and 4-of-17 from 3-point range. The team’s top scorers, Maxey and sophomore Immanuel Quickly, combined for 31 points but went only 10-of-24 from the field.
This was an enormous, costly upset for Kentucky
Kentucky had been a 25-point favorite according to MGM heading into the game. The price the program paid Evansville for what it thought was going to be an easy, early-season win? $90,000, according to the Evansville Courier-Press.
Evansville’s win over Kentucky is tied for the third-biggest college basketball upset in the last 15 seasons, per @ESPNStatsInfo. Kentucky closed as 25-point favorites.
(Kentucky’s loss to Gardner-Webb in 2007 is the biggest in the last 15 years.)
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) November 13, 2019
Evansville was 0-33 on the road against AP Top 25 teams.
Kentucky was 39-0 as AP #1 at home vs unranked non-conf teams.
Kentucky had not lost as #1 against an unranked, non-major conf team since 1950.
Evansville just beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
— Dari Nowkhah (@ESPNDari) November 13, 2019
The preseason No. 2 in the AP Poll, Kentucky ascended to No. 1 with a 69-62 win over Michigan State to open the season. And then they ran into an Evansville team that out-shot, out-assisted and out-rebounded them.
Through just a week of college basketball, all three teams to get first-place votes in the preseason AP Poll — Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas — have lost, though Kentucky’s loss is by far the most inexcusable.
Tuesday’s loss likely opens the door for Duke to take No. 1 in the next poll, but the Blue Devils’ less than impressive win over a sloppy Kansas team (the Blue Devils had 16 turnovers and 35.9 percent shooting) means that we might be in for a season without a truly dominant No. 1.
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