Crawford leads Cats to victory

Kentucky used a 26-9 run over the last 12:03 of the game to pull out a 71-63 victory over the Ohio Bobcats in Cincinnati.

A Rekalin Sims free throw with 2:32 remaining completed an old-fashioned three-point play to give Kentucky a 60-59 lead over the Ohio Bobcats. The lead was Kentucky's first since the 9:53 mark of the first half. After Ohio's Leon Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one Joe Crawford used a Sims screen to get an open lane to the hoop for a 62-59 lead with 1:40 remaining.

In the final minute of play Ohio fired blanks on its field goal attempts and was forced to foul in order to regain possession of the ball. The Wildcats capitalized by hitting seven of eight free throws down the stretch. An overplaying Ohio defense allowed Rajon Rondo to get one of his few open looks at the basket, as the UK sophomore point guard slipped behind the Bobcat defense for a rim-rattling dunk that set the final score, 71-63.

Kentucky was led in scoring by a pair of sophomore guards, Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley, both registered career highs as they stepped up to fill the offensive voids left by Rondo and a poor shooting night by Patrick Sparks. Crawford finished the game with 23 points, and Bradley contributed 18. Sims joined the duo in double-figures with 11.

Ohio led 40-37 at the half, and looked to have control the game when they took a 54-45 lead with 12:25 remaining on a Fears dunk off a Sparks turnover. Kentucky began the 26-9 run moments later when a Bobby Perry tip cut the lead to 54-47. A fastbreak dunk by a trailing Perry, off a nifty Sparks pass pulled Kentucky to within 54-49. Crawford was fouled on a putback and hit the free throw to pull Kentucky to within two points at 52-54.

Ohio appeared to stop the bleeding with a Johnnie Jackson layup, but Bradley answered with a three to cut the lead to 56-55. Once again Ohio answered with a Whitney Davis field goal. Davis hit the second of two free throws to push the lead back to three at 59-55. A foul saddled Sims then went to work with a tip off a miss that pulled the Cats to within two at 59-57. On the next possession Crawford drove and found Sims to setup the play that gave Kentucky the lead.

Ohio was led in scoring by Mychal Green with 16, all in the first half of play when he nailed four of five shots from behind the arc. Point guard Jeremy Fears scored 14, and Williams added 11.

The Cats won the battle of the boards 35-30, Rondo snared seven rebounds. Sims and Perry each grabbed six rebounds for the Cats, five of Perry's boards and all of Sims' board came off the offensive glass. Ohio's Williams took game high rebounding honors with nine.

Kentucky improved its record to 9-3 on the season, while Ohio falls to 6-2. The game was number 2,500 all time for the Wildcats, who have won 1,912 of those contests.

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