LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky’s John Calipari was so focused on coaching his team he barely noticed standout forward Julius Randle was on the bench being treated for cramps.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison picked up the slack against No. 6 Louisville on Saturday. The identical-twin freshmen combined for 28 points, including 11 during a critical second-half stretch with Randle sidelined, helping the 18th-ranked Wildcats earn a 73-66 victory over the defending NCAA champions.
Randle’s 17 first-half points staked Kentucky (10-3) to a 41-36 halftime lead before the 6-foot-9 forward went to the locker room early in the second with leg cramps. He returned but soon limped to the bench with more cramps and didn’t return.
The Harrison twins amply filled the void, turning a 52-51 deficit with 11:01 remaining into a 68-58 lead with four minutes left. Andrew Harrison and James Young each scored 18 points to help Kentucky beat its rival for the fifth time in the last six meetings.
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Kentucky earned its first victory against a ranked opponent in four tries this season.
“I thought we grew up,” Calipari said. “We looked like a basketball team today. Here’s what was on the (drawing) board today: ‘Look like a team. Play like a team. Fight like a team.’ Those were the keys to the victory.”
Russ Smith scored 19 points and Chris Jones added 18 for the Cardinals (11-2).
Syracuse roars back
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Trevor Cooney scored 21 points, Tyler Ennis had 20 and C.J. Fair added 17, rallying No. 2 Syracuse past No. 8 Villanova 78-62 in a game between two of nine unbeaten teams in NCAA Division I.
Syracuse (12-0) trailed 25-7 midway through the first half and, as Orange coach Jim Boeheim said, “There was no indication we were going to get going.”
But Syracuse stunned the Wildcats (11-1) with a 20-0 run to take the lead and didn’t trail again.
James Bell scored 25 points for Villanova.
Other Top 10 games
• Sam Dekker had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his third career double-double as No. 4 Wisconsin beat visiting Prairie View A&M 80-43.
The Badgers (13-0) are off to their best start since the 1913-14 squad won its first 15.
• Senior guard Keith Appling matched his career high of 27 points to help fifth-ranked Michigan State beat visiting New Orleans 101-48 and improve to 11-1.
• Freshman Jabari Parker scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke cruised past visiting Eastern Michigan 82-59. Duke is 10-2.