LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Thirty minutes into the game, little Lipscomb gave the Kentucky Wildcats all they could handle reserve swingman Eddie Ard, who scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 18 points in the second half. The Bisons trailed by just four points, 44-40 heading into the last quarter of the game.
But Kentucky went on a 13-3 run over the next several minutes to put the game on ice behind the hot shooting of guards Rajon Rondo and Ravi Moss. Rondo scored a career-high 19 points and the eighth-ranked Wildcats held off Lipscomb 67-49 in the second round of the Guardians Classic.
Rondo carried most of the load for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard led the team with seven rebounds, five assists and was named the most valuable player of the tournament's four-team Lexington regional.
"As a point guard, you don't look at your scoring," Rondo said, "but I've had to do some of it the last few games. Whatever Coach wants me to do. Last night he talked about rebounding so I tried to rebound. Tonight we were a little slow. We only had 30 points at halftime, so I needed to come out in the second half and be more aggressive on offense."
The Bisons shocked the Cats by breaking out of the gate with a 9-3 lead. The Wildcats defense tightened, however and the Bisons scored only one basket during the next eleven minutes. Lipscomb trailed by only eight at the half, however, 30-22.
The Wildcats could not shake the Bisons throughour the first 10 minutes of the second half. Eddie Ard made sure of that. "It was like he was playing in his backyard and nobody was guarding him," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
Smith decided to go with a quicker lineup after halftime, inserting Ramel Bradley and senior Ravi Moss with Rondo and adding Rekalin Sims and Sheray Thomas under the basket. The move proved successful as Moss scored a career-high 13 points, and Bradley added 12 points.
"I thought for 35 minutes, we stayed in there and battled and battled and battled," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "I'm not into moral victories, but I can't be prouder of a group of guys.
"We don't have to beat Kentucky to go to the NCAA tournament."
Rondo finished 7-of-10 from the field as Kentucky shot 50 percent (24-of-48). That helped offset the fact that a shorter Lipscomb team outrebounded the Wildcats 34-30, led by Shaun Durant's 12 boards. The Bisons shot 37.7 percent from the field.