UK pulls away late to defeat Virginia Tech


Kentucky red-shirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo dunks the ball during the game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, December 16, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

On Saturday afternoon, the Kentucky basketball team overcame an six-point halftime deficit and the nation’s best offense to defeat Virginia Tech 93-86.

The game came down to the wire, as there were 11 lead changes and 8 times where the game was tied. Kentucky’s lead never grew larger than five until 4:54 remained in the game. 

However, Virginia Tech crawled back within two points of Kentucky’s lead with 1:17 remaining. Hamidou Diallo added some cushion back to Kentucky’s lead by hitting his fourth three-pointer of the game with 50 seconds remaining.

The Cats followed Diallo’s three with a block from P.J. Washington on the defensive end, and a free throw from Quade Green on the next possession. This gave the Cats a six-point lead with 33 seconds remaining.

Virginia Tech came within five with a three from Ahmed Hill, but that was as close as the Hokies came to UK’s lead.

Diallo finished with 20 points, 12 of which came from deep. Diallo’s four three-pointers made were a career high, as his previous best was two.

Kevin Knox also provided a spark for the Cats after they trailed by six at halftime, as Knox scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half. Knox was UK’s leading scorer.

In the first half, it was Virginia Tech who did some damage with the three-point shot as the Hokies knocked down seven threes to take control of the first half. As a team, the Hokies shot 62 percent, which is the best an opponent has shot against UK in a half all season.

Hill would hit three of those first-half threes, and he finished as Virginia Tech’s leading scorer with 20 points.

However, the Hokies were unable to stay hot coming out of halftime, as they only hit three threes during the second half, and they all took place when Virginia Tech was playing catch up with 2:48 remaining.

When the three-point shot wasn’t falling for Virginia Tech, they turned to the post where Kerry Blackshear caused the Cats some trouble in the second half. He finished with 18 points and five rebounds, but he fouled out of the game with 3:29 remaining. 

The Cats also took advantage of Virginia Tech’s mistakes, as they turned the Hokies’ 19 turnovers into 36 points.

Up next for UK is the CBS Sports Classic, where the Cats will face UCLA in New Orleans on Dec. 23. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.