Jones, Knight power Cats past Irish



LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The final seconds were still ticking off the clock, but freshman forward Terrence Jones and freshman guard Brandon Knight were already heading in for a victory hug.

After carrying UK to a win, Jones headed off the court and straight toward Knight on the sidelines. The two embraced as the buzzer sounded on No. 16 UK’s 72-58 win over No. 23 Notre Dame in a blue-filled Freedom Hall, an atmosphere Jones said felt like a home game.

Jones scored 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, posting up and dominating from the left block all game. With UK staring at an 11-point deficit and four minutes left in the first half, Jones was back in the post.

He spun toward the basket and viciously dunked the ball through three defenders.

“They really put the pressure on us,” Jones said. “We had to get control of the game and get it back.”

The play ignited the crowd, and fueled a 13-2 run to close the half that tied the game at 40. UK kept the run going with six straight points to open the second half, and it wouldn’t trail the rest of the game.

“I was proud when we were down 11 and fought back,” UK head coach John Calipari said.

Jones and Knight, who scored 20 points and had five assists, combined for 47 points. Nobody else on the team scored more than seven points.

“Brandon ran the club. That’s the best he’s run the club all year,” Calipari said. “Terrence rebounded like that, and everybody else kind of fills in.”

When UK found itself staring at that 11-point deficit, it seemed as though the game was ready to slip away. Notre Dame senior guard Ben Hansbrough scored 19 points in the first half. He was feeling it and filling it from the three-point line, making five, cocking his wrist and staring down the crowd after every make.

“He was incredible. He took one almost at halfcourt,” Calipari said. “I thought it was in, and so did he.”

Then UK tightened up the defense. Notre Dame scored 18 points on 20 percent shooting. Hansbrough scored just two points, and was as visibly frustrated with the way the second half was going as he was in the first half when he was lighting it up.

“They really took Ben away from us in the second half and face-guarded him,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. “They were very aware of him. They made a good adjustment at halftime.

UK was able to maintain its lead, which closed to within five points at one point before Jones buried a three from the corner to lock in a win. The ability of UK to finish the game stood in contrast to the previous game, when it held a single-digit lead against North Carolina before losing by two points.

“Coming off a loss, coach’s past teams, the next game he said they would win by 25 or 30 points,” Jones said. “So, there was no way we were coming off that loss and losing.”