Comeback Cats are carried by Knox’s 34


Freshman forward Kevin Knox shoots the ball during the game against UIC on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 107-73. Photo by Hunter Mitchell

Saturday night, the Comeback Cats wouldn’t be denied as UK basketball came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat No. 7 West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, 83-76.

Kevin Knox shone for UK, scoring a career-high 34 points on 11-17 shooting, including 5-8 from three-point range. He also chased rebounds out of his area, grabbing seven for the Cats. He fueled UK’s large comeback, scoring 19 points in the second half alone.

In the first half, the Cats took a strong punch from the Mountaineers, starting the game with a turnover that led to a transition dunk for WVU. UK saw a 10-3 deficit to open the game, and their only lead in the first stanza was when the score was 3-2. The Cats turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, which is the number head coach John Calipari said he would prefer for the whole game.

Mountaineer big man Sagaba Konate embarrassed the Cats at the rim in the first half as well, swatting away five shots that led to a 12-28 shooting performance for UK in the period. WVU’s senior guard Jevon Carter was on fire for the Mountaineers, pouring in 18 points that helped the home team to a 15-point lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Cats took over. After facing a 17-point deficit early in the half, UK went on a seven-minute, 25-4 run to give the Cats a 62-58 lead with 9:35 remaining in the game. Knox poured it on the Mountaineers as the home team struggled offensively, only shooting 11-34 in the second half.

The Cats held Carter down in the second half, only allowing eight more points from the three-time All-Big 12 Defensive Team member. The press couldn’t hold UK down as they poured in 50 second-half points, two more than WVU’s 48 in their first-half dismantling of UK.

The Cats saw a powerful rebounding performance in the second half as well, outrebounding the Mountaineers 29-13 in the second after being outrebounded 20-21 in the first. Big performances on the glass from Jarred Vanderbilt (11 rebounds), Wenyen Gabriel (nine) and Nick Richards (eight) solidified UK’s physical advantage in the second half.

UK has now forced the Mountaineers into their fourth loss in their last five games, while the Cats have now won two straight, now having won four of their last seven.

The Cats will host Vanderbilt next in Rupp Arena, tipping off at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30.