Cauley-Stein Does It All in 63-51 Win Over No. 6 Texas
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Willie Cauley-Stein had season highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds and made several defensive plays to key Kentucky's 18-2 run to open the second half, helping the top-ranked Wildcats beat No. 6 Texas 63-51 on Friday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Normally playing on the first of Kentucky's two talented platoons, Cauley-Stein began alongside fellow 7-footer Dakari Johnson and 6-10 Trey Lyles on the second squad and the big trio sparked the Wildcats' game-changing 8-minute sequence after a 26-all halftime tie.
They combined for the spurt's first 10 points before Cauley-Stein's tip-in provided a 44-28 lead with 11:20 remaining. That gave Kentucky (8-0) the cushion to hold off the stubborn Longhorns (7-1), who regrouped to close to 56-51 with 1:44 left before Cauley-Stein added a free throw and dunk.
Cauley-Stein's rebounding was a big boost for Kentucky, which was outrebounded 42-31 by Texas. Johnson finished with 11 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 10.
Jonathan Holmes scored 14 points and Demarcus Holland 10 for Texas, which shot just 30 percent in falling to 0-8 against the No. 1 team.
Things were nonetheless tense in a game featuring a number of subplots, including Kentucky guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison seeking big performances against their home state's marquee school. That didn't happen as the 6-6 twins combined for just seven points on 3-for-17 shooting, but Andrew Harrison hit a big 3-pointer with 2:47 left for a 56-47 lead that proved critical.
The Wildcats came away with another signature win following last month's 72-40 drubbing of then-No. 5 Kansas in Indianapolis. But beating the athletic and physical Longhorns required a lot of tweaks to Kentucky's platoons.
The Longhorns certainly used their athleticism in the first half to control the boards 27-11, including a 15-2 edge on the offensive glass that helped build several first-half leads.
Texas' biggest advantage was 20-14 before Longhorns senior forward Holmes was called for a flagrant-1 foul on Towns that sent the 6-11 freshman crashing to the floor. The momentum quickly changed as Towns made both free throws and then a jumper on the subsequent possession before grabbing a defensive rebound setting up Tyler Ulis' game-tying jumper.
Cauley-Stein sandwiched baskets around Alex Poythress' jumper as Kentucky to forge the halftime tie that seemed unlikely considering the Wildcats' 32 percent shooting and rebounding issues.
Then came the lineup change and several key plays with Cauley-Stein making two steals along with a pair of free throws. Johnson added two jumpers while Trey Lyles had four points including a thunderous dunk off a feed from Johnson.