Cats Roll Cleveland State 73-49 to Advance to Cancun Challenge Finals
Nov. 24, 2009
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) - Once John Wall gained his footing, not even a warped court could slow down Kentucky.
The heralded freshman found his form in the second half and proved too much to handle in the open floor as the No. 5 Wildcats raced past Cleveland State 73-49 on Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge at the Moon Palace Resort.
Wall scored a team-high 15 points, including 11 after halftime, as he zipped in and out of the Cleveland State defense. The nation's top-rated recruit last year repeatedly took charge with the ball, drawing trips to the free-throw line or setting up teammates for open looks at the basket.
The game was played in unconventional surroundings, with the resort's main ballroom being converted into a makeshift gymnasium.
Chandeliers hung from the low ceiling, two electronic scoreboards were connected to the ceiling by wire cables, and a food buffet sat just a few feet off the end of one baseline. Sections of the hardwood floor had gaps several inches wide and the baseline was a jagged line where the floor did not match up.
The game was chippy and ragged from the start, with both teams talking trash and officials whistling 24 fouls in the first half. A late 3-pointer by 6-foot-10 forward Josh Harrellson stemmed a late Cleveland State run and gave Kentucky a 35-27 lead at the break.
Kentucky (5-0) took control early in the second half when freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins hit a 3 as the shot clock expired, then made five free throws on one possession, aided by an intentional foul called on D'Aundray Brown for grabbing Wall and pulling him to the floor on a breakaway.
By the time Cleveland State (3-2) called a timeout with 13:08 remaining, Kentucky had outscored the Vikings 18-4 in the second half to open a 22-point advantage.
Cousins was whistled for an technical foul for throwing an intentional elbow at Cleveland State's Jared Cunningham with 3:25 remaining after an official warned Cunningham for shoving Cousins in the back seconds earlier.
Kentucky won despite preseason All-American Patrick Patterson finishing with only nine points and five rebounds, both well below his season averages of 19 points and 12.3 rebounds. Patterson played only one minute in the second half but did not appear to have an injury.
Cleveland State was led by Brown's 10 points. Cousins added 14 points and seven rebounds for Kentucky.