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The Cats are champions again.
They had to play an extra five minutes, but for the second straight year, the UK men’s basketball has been crowned champions of an in-season tournament. The Cats defeated the Stanford Cardinal 73-65 in the championship of the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.
Freshman point guard John Wall sank two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to send the game into overtime at 63-63. In overtime, the Cats outscored the Cardinal 10-2 to move to 6-0 on the season.
Wall led UK in scoring with 23 points on 7 of 15 shooting, and added five assists and four rebounds. He was a perfect 8 for 8 at the free throw line.
It was the Cats’ first overtime game of the season, but not the first time that Wall has risen to the occasion with the clock winding down. Against Miami of Ohio on Nov. 16, Wall hit a jumper with .5 seconds remaining to break a tie game and give the Cats their second victory on the young season.
Coincidentally, the last time UK and Stanford played against each other also went into overtime. That game was in the 1998 Final Four in San Antonio. UK won 86-85 and went on to win the National Championship, their seventh and most recent.
The Cats shot 44.6 percent from the field, their lowest percentage this season. UK held an eight-rebound advantage on Stanford and committed 15 turnovers compared to 14 assists.
UK found themselves down by six at halftime before regaining the lead at 54-53 with 6:40 remaining in the second half. The lead went back and forth after that before Wall sent the game into overtime by hitting two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining.
Junior forward Patrick Patterson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.
Sophomore guard Darius Miller hit three, 3-pointers, and senior guard Ramon Harris grabbed a season-high seven rebounds.
Stanford was led by senior guard Landry Fields who scored 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
Wall was named the tournament MVP, while freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins earned All-Tournament honors. Cousins finished 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks against Stanford.
The Cats play again on Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m., against UNC Asheville. The game will be played at Freedom Hall in Louisville.