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Still-unbeaten Kentucky grinds out win over Cincinnati

Mar 21, 2015 - 11:48 PM Louisville, KY ( - It wasn't a pretty win, but Kentucky stayed undefeated all the same.

Thanks in part to 13 points from Aaron Harrison along with 11 points and 11 rebounds from Trey Lyles, the top-seeded Wildcats posted a 64-51 victory over Cincinnati in a third round matchup of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region.

The Wildcats (36-0) struggled shooting the ball for much of the first half, and the upset-minded Bearcats were able to keep things close over the first several minutes of the second half.

Kentucky, though, ultimately pulled away to advance to next week's Sweet 16, where it will face either West Virginia or Maryland in Cleveland.

"It was a good win for our team," said Kentucky head coach John Calipari. "I thought Cincinnati played well, they didn't back away and came right at us. I always like it when my team shoots 36, 37 percent and wins in double-digits."

Troy Caupain had 13 points and Shaq Thomas gave 10 points and five rebounds for the eighth-seeded Bearcats (23-11), who had edged Purdue by one point in overtime on Thursday to advance in their 29th NCAA Tournament appearance.

"We got off the bus today and every guy that walked into the locker room expected to beat Kentucky," said Cincinnati head coach Larry Davis. "Had we finished a little better down the stretch, made those point-blank shots and a few more free throws, we would have made it a lot more interesting."

Kentucky held a 31-24 lead entering the second half and Cincinnati was able to keep it close over the next several minutes, with Octavius Ellis' dunk cutting the margin to 39-34 with 14 minutes to play.

Harrison countered with a 3-ball two minutes later to give the Wildcats their largest lead to that point at 42-34.

Following a free throw from Cincinnati's Coreontae DeBerry, Lyles hit a pair of free throws and after a couple of misses at either end and a steal from Kentucky's Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison put in a layup for a 46-35 Kentucky lead with 9 1/2 minutes to play.

The Bearcats hung in there for the next couple of minutes and trailed by 10 after Caupain hit a basket to make it a 53-43 game with just under five minutes left, However, Tyler Ulis countered with a 3-pointer and the Wildcats scored the next nine points to put the contest away.

Neither side was able to shoot the ball well to start the game, as the two teams each scored four points over the first seven minutes.

Jermaine Sanders made a 3-pointer and DeBerry put in a jumper to give the Bearcats an 11-6 lead with 12 minutes left. The lead went back and forth several times over the next nine minutes, but the Wildcats scored the final 10 points of the half to take a 31-24 lead into the break.

Game Notes

Kentucky shot just 10-for-29 in the first half and finished the game 20- for-54 (37 percent)... The Bearcats were just 20-for-63 from the floor ... The Wildcats posted nine blocks in the game ... Karl-Anthony Towns finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks for Kentucky ... The Wildcats lead the series with the Bearcats, 28-11.