Kentucky basketball outlasts Ole Miss 87-74 behind career nights from Kyle Wiltjer and Nerlens Noel

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This is more like the UK teams we’re used to seeing.

The Cats played perhaps their best game of the year Tuesday as they went into Oxford and handed #16 Ole Miss their first SEC loss in 7 tries this season. Kyle Wiltjer had a career high 26 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists. He was 10-19 from the floor, including 5 of 12 from behind the 3-point line, to lead all scorers. Nerlens Noel had the best game you may ever see from a player who scored 2 points. As he’s demonstrated repeatedly throughout the year, his ability to block or alter shots has a cumulative effect on an opponent, and Tuesday was no different. Noel finished with 12 blocks, a school record, along with 7 rebounds and those 2 points. UK also got stellar performances from Archie Goodwin (24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), Alex Poythress (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Ryan Harrow (13 points). Ole Miss was led by guard Ladarius White with 22 points; and sharpshooter Marshall Henderson, who scored 21 points but was held to 5-19 from the floor, including 2-11 from behind the arc.

The game was competitive throughout the 1st half, with Ole Miss leading 38-37 at the break. The Cats came out hot in the second half, especially Wiltjer, who scored 9 points as UK started the half with a 16-8 run to lead by 7 within the first four minutes. UK then bore down on defense, keying a 20-10 run that gave UK its biggest lead, 73-56, with just under 10 minutes to go. Ole Miss was not deterred, fighting back with a 16-0 run of its own over the next 5+ minutes to cut UK’s lead to 1, 73-72 with just over four minutes left. That was as close as they got as Ryan Harrow hit a 3 and Archie Goodwin added a layup and two free throws to stretch the lead out and effectively end the game.

UK now turns its attention to Saturday, when they visit Texas A&M, who beat them at Rupp earlier this year. As valuable a win as this is for the Cats, a loss Saturday in College Station could potentially negate much of that value.

 

Photo: Flickr/MegRobertsonNY

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About Adam Price
I'm a Louisville native, accountant at the University of Louisville, volunteer, and member of the Fund for the Arts NeXt! Leadership Development program. I enjoy sports (especially UofL), the arts, craft beer and Kentucky bourbon...not in that order.
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