How Evansville stunned No. 1 Kentucky
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images The biggest upset of the 2019-20 college basketball season to date went down Tuesday night inside Rupp Arena. Heading into Tuesday night, the Evansville Purple Aces had never won a road game over a team ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll. They won’t soon forget their first, and neither will anyone else. The Aces got 18 points from senior guard K.J. Riley and 17 from Arizona State/Kansas transfer Sam Cunliffe as they stunned No. 1 Kentucky, 67-64 inside Rupp Arena. The Wildcats had previously been 39-0 when ranked No. 1 and hosting an unranked non-conference opponent. For second-year head coach Walter McCarty, a star on Kentucky’s 1995-96 national championship team, the return to Rupp was shockingly sweet. evansville basketball is back pic.twitter.com/yT933bIZ8R— Harry Lyles Jr. (@harrylylesjr) November 13, 2019 Perhaps the most staggering thing about the most staggering upset of the 2019-20 season to date is how superior the 25-point underdog looked from tip to final horn. The Aces killed Kentucky with straight line drives More often than not, seismic upsets in college basketball feature an undersized, out-manned squad going nuts from beyond the arc and catching Goliath on an off-shooting night. That wasn’t the case here. Evansville shot just 9-of-30 from beyond the arc and 38.3 percent from the field overall. The Aces also didn’t make up for their deficiencies with a huge free-throw disparity. Instead, they were outscored 20-12 by Kentucky at the charity stripe. Where Evansville excelled Tuesday night was with straight line drives by one of the at least three guards they had on the floor at all times. Kentucky’s Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans (who is known as one of the better on-ball defenders in the country) struggled to keep Evansville’s guards out of the lane, and the help from their teammates on the backend was too often mistimed. The result was far too many easy buckets around the rim for an undersized underdog with no business competing with the No. 1 team in the country in that manner. Evansville also won the battle of the boards Kentucky’s primary concern going into the season was its frontcourt, which had experience with sophomore E.J. Montgomery and junior Nick Richards, but not a lot of proven production. That weakness bit them on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats were out-rebounded 38-35 by the smaller Aces. Also of note is that despite the fact that Evansville did the bulk of its damage around the rim, guard Tyrese Maxey and forward Nate Sestina recorded Kentucky’s only two blocked shots of the evening. The Aces never rattled It’s not exactly unheard of this early in the season to see a massive underdog race out to an early lead on a blue-blood’s home floor. What is shocking is to see said underdog not bat an eye while taking blow after blow once the favorite finally wakes up. When Evansville’s 34-30 halftime lead turned Into a 48-46 Kentucky advantage at the 11-minute mark of the second half, the common thought was that the fun was coming to an end. Instead, Shamar Givance promptly responded with a three-pointer and Artur Labinowicz to put the Aces bask ahead by three. They never trailed again, and never trailed by more than three at any point during the game. That’s not the type of resolve you expect to see from any underdog in this type of situation, let alone one that was picked before the season to finish eighth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference. Men's basketball teams favored by 25 points or more are now 944-6 (.994) since 2003-04. Evansville's upset win is tied for the third largest in that span.— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) November 13, 2019 Before Tuesday night, John Calipari had never lost a home game as Kentucky’s coach against un unranked non-conference opponent. Kentucky as a program had won 52 consecutive games against said foes. As for Evansville, they were paid $90,000 by UK to come to Lexington and pull off the biggest win in school history. Not a bad Tuesday night.
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