Kentucky still hasn’t solved any of its major problems — outside shooting, rebounding and Skal Labissiere’s disappearance among them — but the Wildcats were able to shut down a hot Arizona State team, 72-58, with a blistering second half effort.
The turning point: Freshman guard Jamal Murray took over with a little more than six minutes remaining. He collected a defensive rebound at the 6:11 mark, then earned a nice assist by wrapping the ball around an Arizona State post to Marcus Lee for a dunk. He then grabbed another rebound on the other end and drained a three on the ensuing possession to make it an 18-point lead with 5:58 remaining.
MVP: Marcus Lee. On a day when the backcourt struggled to make anything, Lee provided a steady hand off the bench. The junior finished with 14 points (6-for-8), seven rebounds (two offensive) and five blocks to pull the Wildcats along.
Memorable moment: Fewer than five minutes into the game, senior Alex Poythress threw down the season’s best dunk. The 6-foot-8 forward collected a loose ball and then leapt toward the rim at full speed for a Jordan-esque slam.
Starting lineup: Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere
Off the bench: Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder, Isaac Humphries, Derek Willis, E.J. Floreal (late) and Jonny David (late)
Cleaning up the glass: The Wildcats shot 6-for-21 from 3-point range, including an 0-for-6 start … Arizona State out-rebounded Kentucky, 40-37 … Labissiere finished with zero points (0-for-2) with zero rebounds, one block and five fouls … Arizona State had won six of seven games entering Saturday’s contest, including wins over North Carolina State, Creighton and Texas A&M … Poythress reportedly hyperextended his right knee in the first half, but returned at the beginning of the second.
What’s next: No. 5 Kentucky vs. Ohio State (Brooklyn, N.Y.) — Dec. 19, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)