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No. 18 Kentucky Outlasts Bobcats 71-63

Dec. 30, 2005

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CINCINNATI - After leading most of the game, the Ohio men's basketball team fell to No. 18 Kentucky 71-63 at U.S. Bank Arena on Friday.

The Bobcats (6-2) scored the game first four points and were leading 8-3 following a Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) layup at the 17:43 mark. The Wildcats (9-3) responded with a 10-4 run to take their first lead, 13-12, with 15:14 remaining.

Kentucky's last lead of the first half came with 11:28 to play when Joe Crawford drilled a three-pointer to make it 19-17. Three straight treys by Green, however, gave Ohio a 26-19 edge with 8:25 to play.

The Bobcats' largest lead of the first half came at the 6:56 mark when Sonny Troutman (Indianapolis) sank a pair of free throws to make it 33-24. After a Johnnie Jackson (Memphis) jumper kept the lead at nine with 5:53 to play, the Wildcats scored seven straight points to pull within two.

A Jeff Halbert (White Bear Lake, Minn.) three-pointer and two Jeremy Fears (Joliet, Ill.) free throws closed out the half for Ohio as the Bobcats took a 40-37 advantage into the locker room.

Ohio shot 65.0 percent (13-of-20) from the field in the opening period, including 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from behind the arc and a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. The Green and White had won all five previous games when leading at the half this season while Kentucky was 0-3 when trailing at intermission.

In the second half, Fears tipped in an errant shot by Troutman at the 17:20 mark to give the Bobcats a nine-point edge. Five minutes later, a Fears steal and dunk again pushed the lead to nine, 54-45, with 12:35 to play.

Ohio then went scoreless for over six minutes, though, as Kentucky eventually tied the score at 59-59 with 2:31 on the clock. It happened during a 12-0 run that saw the Wildcats take a 67-59 with just 23 seconds remaining. Overall, Kentucky outscored the Bobcats 26-9 over the last 9:25 of the game.

After leading all scorers with 16 points in the first half, Green failed to score in the second stanza but still ended up as Ohio's top scorer. Fears added 14 points before fouling out with 24 seconds remaining while Leon Williams (Baltimore) recorded his 11th career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats were led by Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley, who scored 23 and 18 points, respectively. Wooden Award candidate Rajon Rondo was held to just six points in 36 minutes on the court.

The Bobcats were looking for their first win over a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 11 Syracuse 61-55 on Dec. 4, 1998. Kentucky, meanwhile, was playing in its 2,500th game. The Wildcats' 1,913-586-1 all-time record makes them the nation's winningest college basketball program.

Ohio begins Mid-American Conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 4, with a 7 p.m. home game against Western Michigan, followed by a 2 p.m. home contest against Ball State on Jan. 8. For ticket information, please contact the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-575-CATS.