Box Score (PDF)
LEXINGTON, Ky. -For 17 minutes on Monday night, the Penn men's basketball team did exactly what it wanted to do against No. 10/11 Kentucky. The Quakers got open shots and they hit them. Defensively, Penn fought hard and made Kentucky work for everything. As a result, the Red and Blue found themselves up on the Wildcats, 32-21, and the Rupp Arena faithful were doing everything they could to exhort their team to get started.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Kentucky scored the last 12 points of the opening half, taking a 33-32 lead into the break, and the tone was set for the second half. When the game was over, UK had hit 22 of its final 28 field goals -- including a staggering 18 of 22 in the second half -- and rolled to an 86-62 victory.
Kentucky is now 12-2 on the season, while Penn fell to 5-6 heading into three Big 5 games over the next few weeks before Ivy League play opens.
After missing almost all of last year, senior Tyler Bernardini -- Penn's leading scorer in 2008-09 -- seems to be rounding into form. Anyone who knows Bernardini also knows that he comes up big against big-time opponents. That was certainly the case on Monday, as he dropped 16 points in the first 17 minutes en route to 22 overall.
With Bernardini leading the way, and Miles Cartwright and Rob Belcore joining him in a three-point parade, Penn silenced 21,681 members of Big Blue Nation. Bernardini scored eight of Penn's first 11 points, and then Cartwright knocked down a pair of treys, and the Quakers were up 17-10. Belcore expanded the lead to nine with his three-pointer (22-13), and Bernardini pushed the advantage to double digits with, you got it, a trifecta with 6:07 left in the half.
The lead was still 11, at 32-21, when Kentucky's precocious players began revving up. Doron Lamb converted a conventional three-point play, and then -- after Mike Howlett had three shots in a row blocked by UK's Josh Harrellson -- DeAndre Liggins knocked down a trey. With the crowd gaining traction, a Zack Rosen turnover quickly became a Brandon Knight three-pointer. Then Bernardini committed a turnover, and Harrellson tipped in a Darius Miller miss to tie the game at 32. Lamb finally gave UK its first lead when he hit a free throw with 27 seconds left before the half, and Penn was unable to get off a shot before the horn.
Here is all you need to know about the second half: Kentucky missed four shots from the field in the entire stanza. Two of those misses came in the game's final 2:18. At that point, the 'Cats had hit 17 of 19 field goals -- including 6 of 8 three-pointers -- and led 82-56. Penn simply had no answer, leaving UK open time and again defensively, and with each make the Wildcats' confidence noticeably increased.
Cartwright finished the game with 16 points, joining Bernardini as the only Penn players to score in double figures. Rosen ended the game with just six points, all of them at the foul line; it marked the first time in 25 games he was held to a single-digit scoring total. Jack Eggleston had seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
For Kentucky, Brandon Knight had 22 points as five players scored in double figures. Lamb finished with 16, while Harrellson ended the game with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Penn and La Salle will meet next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena.
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