Late run pushes UK past Indiana 81-62



It started with a DeAndre Liggins three-pointer that ignited a crowd waiting for a breakthrough moment.

It continued with a Brandon Knight three-pointer, one in which Terrence Jones raised his hands before the shot was even hoisted, giving UK an 11-point lead and busted the game open.

And it ended with two Liggins free throws that capped a 25-5 run over the last eight minutes of the game to give No. 17 UK (7-2) an 81-62 win over Indiana (7-2).

“We had that one stretch, and that’s basically all it was,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “We had a five-minute stretch where we stepped it up and we played.”

UK’s defense clamped down at the end of the game and tilted the outcome in the Cats’ favor. After Indiana made half of its shots in the first half, the Hoosiers shot 9-for-26 (34.6 percent) in the last period. That included just one field goal in the final 9:42, a way-too-late layup with 38 seconds left in the game.

“It will always be a combination,” Calipari said on whether it was UK’s defense or Indiana’s missed shots that created the run. “You step it up a little bit, play a little harder, the game gets a little tense, we make some baskets and start separating, and then they have to make those baskets.”

Until the run, the game was closely contested the entire way. UK had a couple spurts that didn’t materialize into running away with the game, which had eight ties and 12 lead changes as both teams battled for control of the game.

And then suddenly, UK was pouring in points and Indiana was not.

“It’s heartbreaking, when the other team comes down and makes a hard shot or an and-one,” senior center Josh Harrellson said. “That’s definitely a backbreaker, hurts your team morale, and we took advantage of that and kept going.”

Liggins provided much of the energy for the run, on both the offensive and defensive end. He scored 10 points in that span, but was also making hustle plays on the other end, pulling down rebounds and collecting floorburns almost as often as he was getting points.

“When he picks up his intensity and he’s aggressive, it feeds over to the other side of the court, and that’s him attacking the basket and getting fouled and getting to the line,” Brandon Knight said of Liggins, who finished with career highs of 19 points and nine rebounds.

But the career highs, while he was proud of them, were just extras to Liggins, who has created a persona for himself with the defense and floor dives. He said those aspects of his game were better last year, though, and he’s looking to return to form.

“(Calipari) told me, this is what you do, this is what people look at,” Liggins said. “If you don’t do this, you might as well find a job.”

For Harrellson, the candy cane-striped pants Indiana wears during warm-ups must have been a welcome sight. Harrellson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, his second-highest point total in his career, right behind a game two years ago against the Hoosiers.

“My first game that I ever had a good game (for UK) was against Indiana,” Harrellson said. “I knew if I could do it once I could do it again.”

Half of his rebounds were on the offensive glass, part of UK’s 18-6 edge at rebounding its own misses, which led to a 21-4 advantage in second-chance points.

“We prepared all week for how good Harrellson was on the backboards, and as much really as we prepared for anybody else on their team,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said.

The “Big White Kid,” as Calipari said an NBA friend referred to Harrellson as, also had a couple of breakthrough moments. He attempted the first four fouls shots of the season (and made all four). He also had two dunks, including an alley-oop, which ignited to the crowd, his team and himself, and pleased his coach.

“What I said to him, you dunk every ball, I don’t care if you miss the dunk,” Calipari said. “All of a sudden he dunks two and everything is different.”


Game notes:

Josh Harrellson shot 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. They were his first attempts of the season.

Stacey Poole had more shot attempts (3) than Brandon Knight (2) in the first half.



John Calipari part 1:

Calipari, part 2:

DeAndre Liggins:

Josh Harrellson, part 1:

Harrellson, part 2: