No. 1 Kentucky squeaks past North CarolinaDec 3, 2011 - 8:50 PM Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - There was no guarantee that John Henson's shot from the right wing was going to drop through the basket and give North Carolina the lead with only seconds remaining.
That is, not until Anthony Davis reached up and got a fingertip on the ball, blocking the shot to help secure Kentucky's 73-72 victory over North Carolina in an early-season thriller.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the top- ranked Wildcats (8-0), who have won 38 consecutive games in Rupp Arena. They trailed by five at halftime but moved in front for good with about seven minutes left, then held on down the stretch.
"I know [Davis] is a master right now at timing shots to block them," said Kentucky forward Terrence Jones. "He got there and won the game for us."
Reggie Bullock drilled a three-pointer with a minute remaining, pulling the fifth-ranked Tar Heels (6-2) within a point. They gained the opportunity to move in front after Kentucky's Marquis Teague missed the front end of a 1- and-1, but didn't execute on their final possession and lost for the second time in three games.
North Carolina got the ball back with 21 seconds left and tried to feed the ball inside to Tyler Zeller, but the Tar Heels forward couldn't get a grip on it.
Henson was on the right side of the court to grab the loose ball and lined up a jumper about six feet in front of the baseline. But as the 6-foot-11 forward rose up, so did the 6-foot-10 Davis. The freshman forward stopped the ball and grabbed the rebound, and the Wildcats ran out the remaining five seconds as a stunned Tar Heels team watched.
"It's funny because I do the same thing to other guys and he did it to me for the game," Henson said. "It was a great play by a great player."
Davis has 36 blocks this season, and finished with seven points and nine rebounds Saturday. Jones and Doron Lamb both had 14 points for Kentucky.
Harrison Barnes and Zeller led the Tar Heels with 14 points apiece. Barnes hit four of UNC's 11 three-pointers, including one just more than five minutes into the game.
Kentucky had led early, but Barnes' three gave the Tar Heels a 14-11 edge, and long-range shooting continued to benefit UNC. After the Wildcats re-gained the lead, a Henson jumper and P.J. Hairston three-pointer handed the Tar Heels a 19-15 advantage.
They led for the rest of the half, and by as many as nine, before three points by Kidd-Gilchrist in the final two minutes brought the Wildcats within 43-38 at the break. They drew even two minutes into the second half, when Davis converted a three-point play.
While Kendall Marshall followed with a three to put UNC back ahead, Kentucky stayed close and remained in position to grab the lead with one quick run. With under nine minutes left in the game, the Wildcats got one.
Dexter Strickland's dunk had given the Tar Heels a 60-56 edge, but Darius Miller battled in the paint for a layup and three-point play on Kentucky's next possession.
Zeller's turnover then led to a Davis jumper, and a miss by Marshall led to Kyle Wiltjer's layup. The seven-point burst gave Kentucky a 63-60 lead with 6:39 remaining.
Two foul shots by Kidd-Gilchrist with 1:33 left made it a 73-69 contest.
Saturday's game was a rematch of the East Regional Final in last season's NCAA Tournament. Kentucky won that game, 76-69, to earn a trip to the Final Four...The Tar Heels still lead the all-time series, 22-13...Henson and Jones both finished with three blocks. Davis ended with two...UNC had 13 turnovers, compared to nine for Kentucky...Hairston ended with 11 points for the Tar Heels, while Henson had 10 and eight rebounds.
- NORTH CAROLINA: 72
Dec 3 1:57 PM
- NORTH CAROLINA: 43
Dec 3 12:55 PM
- NORTH CAROLINA: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Dec 3 12:09 PM
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