Kentucky defeats UNC 80-72 in CBS Sports Classic


Ashton Hagans drives in the ball. University of Kentucky men’s basketball team played University of North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic at the United on Dec. 22, 2018 in Center in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

The no. 19 Kentucky Wildcats went head-to-head with the no. 9 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago Saturday afternoon and head back to Lexington with an 80-72 win under their belts, improving their record to 9-2.

UNC won the opening tip but UK’s Ashton Hagans would make the first play of the game, a basket good for two, after a Tar Heel turnover within the first few seconds of the half. UNC responded with a Cameron Johnson layup, but Wildcat Tyler Herro sunk the first three-pointer of the game to go up 5-2 early, and the first of many three-point attempts for Kentucky. 

UK’s first-half leading scorer in Reid Travis got his scoring start around three minutes in with an and-one layup under the basket—the graduate student shot eight of UK’s 12 free throws in the first half. 

After the Cats led the game for the first five minutes, the Tar Heels took control following a second-chance Sterling Manley layup to lead 13-12. UNC would keep that lead until a Hagans free throw and Keldon Johnson layup tied the game at 15 and a Travis free throw put Kentucky ahead again with around 11 minutes left in the half. 

UNC would lead only once more in the half, when a Coby White layup put them up 17-16 over Kentucky. 

The biggest lead of the first half came with just over one minute left after a Travis free throw extended UK’s lead to 11. Kentucky would go on to lead UNC 40-31 at halftime. 

An Ashton Hagans block and Johnson three pointer to follow put Kentucky up by 12 within the first few seconds of the second half. The Cats made nine baskets from beyond the arc while attempting 26 of them. 

The Cats’ lead didn’t drop below five the whole second half—the closest UNC kept it was at the 11:53 mark when a White free throw put the score at 54-49. 

Kentucky’s Johnson helped get the team back to a 10-point lead after he made a pair of baskets on two straight possessions—both three-pointers—and after a few made UNC baskets and a Kentucky miss, Hagans got another steal which led to Kentucky’s third three-pointer in a row, this time by Washington. 

Freshman Immanuel Quickley sealed the deal when he hit two free throws to bring the score to 80-72. 

Johnson, Kentucky’s leading scorer, finished with 21 points while Travis recorded 20. Hagans was Kentucky’s toughest defender as he tallied seven steals. 

The Cats return to the court on December 29th when they face in-state rival Louisville on the road at 2 p.m.