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    Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Wildcats Facebook Page
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    The University of Cincinnati may have shown that there are some kinks in Kentucky’s collective armor Saturday.

    However the best team in college basketball all season became the first Division I men’s basketball team to start a season 36-0. The Wildcats beat the Bearcats 64-51 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region at the KFC Yum! Center.

    Cincinnati went high top-to-high top with top-ranked UK for the first 17-plus minutes, and even outrebounded the much taller Wildcats 45-38 (including 21-12 on the offensive end). In the end, though, the Bearcats couldn’t overcome their own shortcomings both literally (Kentucky’s height advantage eventually took its toll) and figuratively (UC shot just 31.7 percent from the field, including 14.3 percent from 3-point range).

    Sophomore shooting guard Aaron Harrison tallied 13 points, hitting three of UK’s four 3-pointers, freshman forward Trey Lyles added a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) and 5-9 freshman point guard Tyler Ulis was huge off the bench (nine points, five assists, three steals, three rebounds) for the Wildcats, who won for the 29th time this season by double figures despite shooting only 37 percent from the field, including 26.7 percent from 3-point range.

    “It was a good win for our team,” UK coach John Calipari said. “I thought Cincinnati played well. They didn’t back away. They came right at us. I always like it when my team shoots 37, 36, 35 percent and wins in double digits. It shows them they don’t have to make shots to win. You can miss them all. No, you can’t miss them all, but you can miss most of them. You can still win games if you defend, you rebound and you play that way and make your free throws, and they did.

    Kentucky will next meet the winner between fourth-seeded Maryland (28-6) and fifth-seeded West Virginia (24-9), who meet at 8:40 p.m. Sunday night, Thursday night in the Sweet 16 in Cleveland.

    Cincinnati (23-11), which was coming off a 66-65 overtime win over Purdue in the second round, led for almost half of the first half. Shaquille Thomas’ dunk gave the Bearcats a 24-21 lead with 3:43 to play. However, Devin Booker’s layup 26 seconds later started a 10-0 run by the Wildcats that gave them control of the game. Moments later Willie Cauley-Stein’s massive dunk gave UK the lead for good.

    Kentucky led 31-24 at halftime. The Bearcats cut it to as few as three in the second half, the last time at 33-30, but could never get closer.  

    “I think we responded pretty well,” Aaron Harrison said. “Coach prepared us for it. We went out there, and we matched their intensity and matched their physicalness.”

    Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Wildcats Facebook Page

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