Unranked Ohio State (6-5) played its best game to date, knocking off the No. 4 Wildcats 74-67 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., just a week after suffering a 20-point loss at UConn.
Keita Bates-Diop led four Buckeyes in double figures with 14 points and was one of three OSU players to grab seven or more rebounds on a day when they beat the Cats 42-40 on the glass. Marc Loving followed with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Jae'sean Tate added six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Ohio State also had nine steals and seven blocked shots, the highest totals recorded against Kentucky this season.
"They out-hustled us, and they made plays they haven't made all year," UK coach John Calipari said of the Buckeyes' winning formula. Ohio State was shooting 34 percent from behind the arc this season, but knocked down nine of 18 against the Cats.
Kentucky (9-2) trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and by 16 midway through the second half before Murray's hot hand led a spirited comeback. The freshman guard scored 27 of his 33 points after the break, including seven 3-pointers, to pull the Cats within 63-60 with 3:34 remaining, but UK could get no closer.
“We have to come out and understand that these teams are coming at us with their best shot," Murray said. "They came out today and hit 60 to 70 percent of their shots early on, and they hit us in the mouth. We weren’t able to recover until late in the game, and at that point it was too late.”
Junior center Marcus Lee added 12 points and nine rebounds for UK before fouling out late in the game. Freshman forward Skal Labissiere had another tough outing for the Cats, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting and grabbing only five rebounds.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the UK loss...
There were two, one in each half. The first-half version saw Ohio State make nine of 10 shots during a stretch which saw the Buckeyes turn a one-point lead into a 14-point cushion. The second-half version saw a mad scramble near midcourt with UK trailing by three near the 3:00 mark. The Cats' Alex Poythress and Murray each had a chance to secure it, but the ball bounced around until it wound up in the hands of OSU's Kam Williams for a runout basket. An intentional foul was called against UK's Tyler Ulis, and the Buckeyes emerged from the sequence with a 67-60 lead.
BY THE NUMBERS:
2:37 - Time the Wildcats held a lead in the game.
13 - Second-chance points for the Buckeyes off 13 offensive rebounds.
16 - Ohio State points off 12 UK turnovers.
57% - Free-throw shooting for UK, missing six of its 14 attempts.
"We'll learn, but now the schedule doesn't get any easier from this point forward... People smell blood, they'll come after us." -- UK coach John Calipari.
It's a big one. Arch-rival Louisville (9-1) comes to Rupp Arena on Saturday, Dec. 26, for a noon ET tipoff on CBS. The No. 19 Cardinals defeated Western Kentucky 78-56 today.