Dec. 22, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Loyola University Maryland cut No. 3 Kentucky's lead to just four points on the first possession of the second half, but the Wildcats later used a 15-2 run to put the game out of reach in an 87-63 decision in front of 22,274 fans at Rupp Arena on Thursday afternoon.
The crowd was the largest that a Loyola athletics team has ever played in front of, and Kentucky's No. 3 ranking equaled the previous highest-ranked team the Greyhounds have faced (Kansas in January 2008).
"I was proud that we played very hard today and the effort, especially in the first half," Head Coach Jimmy Patsos said. "We withstood the first couple of minutes when they came out strong, and then we made it a really close game in the first half. We are pleased to be 8-3 heading into Christmas, but we know that we have a lot of work ahead of us."
Erik Etherly, who led Loyola (8-3 overall) with 14 points and 11 rebounds, caught a Shane Walker lob pass and laid it in 13 ticks into the second half, making it 45-41 Kentucky after the Wildcats were up by six at the break.
Darius Miller, however, made back-to-back baskets in the paint on Kentucky's next two possessions, and the Wildcats (11-1) were up by eight.
Justin Drummond knocked down a 3-pointer with less than three seconds on the shot clock for Loyola on its next trip down the court, reducing Kentucky's advantage to 49-44 with 18:23 on the clock.
After a pair of Michael Kidd-Gilchrest free throws for the Wildcats, Drummond caught a long outlet pass from Etherly and laid the ball in on transition to make it a five-point game again.
Kentucky scored the next five, however, and that is as close as Loyola would draw the remainder of the game. Etherly scored a 16:11 to pull Loyola to within eight, 56-48, but a Kidd-Gilchrest dunk on the ensuing possession started a 15-2 Kentucky run that put the Wildcats up 71-50 on a Kyle Wiltjer jumper at 11:02.
Wiltjer came off the bench and led all scorers with 24 points. He was 7-of-11 from the field with three 3-pointers and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Kidd-Gilchrest and Anthony Davis each added 15 points, and Miller added 13. Davis matched Etherly for game-high honors with 11 rebounds.
Twice in the first half, Kentucky appeared to be on its way to a large margin of victory only to see the Greyhounds battle back.
Kentucky scored seven in a row after Dylon Cormier opened the game with the first points, going ahead by seven less than three minutes in, but threes by Walker and Robert Olson trimmed it to 9-8 less than a minute later.
Later in the stanza, Marquis Teague hit a pair of free throws that put Kentucky ahead 33-23 with 6:01 on the clock. Cormier made consecutive layups, and R.J. Williams and Etherly both added buckets of their own, and Loyola was back within two after Etherly's dunk at 4:30.
Cormier ended the game with 13 points, and Drummond added 10 for Loyola. Olson tallied nine, and Jordan Latham finished with a career-high seven.
The Greyhounds also matched their season-low with just nine turnovers.
Loyola will take the weekend off to celebrate the Christmas holiday with their families before returning to action with its final game of 2011 on December 28 at Bucknell University.