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December 10, 2011BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Here's hoping your ticker's still ticking.
Skipped beats are understandable if you're a Kentucky basketball fan. The top-ranked Wildcats have been putting your heart through hell.
Indiana tore out Kentucky's at Assembly Hall on Saturday, knocking off the nation's No. 1 team with a Christian Watford three-point dagger that beat the buzzer and bounced the Cats from the ranks of the unbeaten, 73-72.
It was the second pulse-pounding finish in a week for the Wildcats (8-1), who beat North Carolina by the very same score last Saturday at Rupp Arena.
"This was a great game," UK coach John Calipari said. "First of all you have to give Tommy (Crean) credit for getting his team ready and how they played. They played us exactly how they had to play to keep it where they kept it, and their kids played well. They played aggressive. They attacked the ball. They were great. My hat's off to Indiana, they deserved it."
The Hoosiers (9-0) had to fight for it, all the way to the wire.
The 17,472 fans packed into Assembly Hall made played their part. They rooted and roared, booed and boomed, and the atmosphere appeared to rattle the Wildcats, playing their first true road game.
"I think we came out, we wasn't ready for (the crowd) at the beginning, being our first away game," UK forward Darius Miller said. "They did a great job of feeding off their crowd. Seemed like it hyped them up, had them making shots that we didn't expect them to make."
The Hoosiers fed off that crowd. They surged ahead by as many as eight in the first half and by one, 30-29 at halftime. IU took a 48-38 lead with 14:38 to play in the second half on a three-pointer by Jordan Hulls, the fifth three-pointer in a 6-for-6 long-distance shooting start to the second half.
Indiana didn't just outshoot the Cats, it outhustled them.
"To play on the road, you've got to grind it out, take what you can in transition," Calipari said. "If it's not there, now make them play in the half court. And defensively, you've got to come up with those loose balls that we didn't, which gave them their chance to win."
Still, Kentucky had its chances.
The Cats got virtually nothing from Terrence Jones, who finished with four points and one rebound in 28 minutes. It saw Anthony Davis limited to 24 minutes by foul trouble and had a season-low one blocked shot to go with six points and nine rebounds.
But strong second-half performances by Miller, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague - and an often-spectacular game by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - kept the Wildcats in striking distance.
Lamb led UK with 19 points. Kidd-Gilchrist added 18 and Teague 15. Watford led all scorers with 20.
"We never got frustrated," Miller said. "You (saw) toward the end of the game, we were still confident we were going to win the game."
Miller's dunk with two minutes to play gave UK a 69-68 lead, and The Cats led 71-70 after a Teague layup with 49 seconds left. But after Watford's missed jumper with 30 seconds to play, Davis rebounded and dribbled to halfcourt, where he was fouled.
Davis missed the front end of a one-and-one with 19 seconds to play.
"I wish he would have made one extra pass to Michael," Calipari said.
After an Indiana turnover, UK got a better free-throw shooter to the line, but Lamb missed the first of two free throws with five seconds to play, giving UK a 72-70 lead and setting up Indiana's heroics.
"I had a lot of confidence going to the line at the end, in clutch time, trying to make the clutch foul shots, but I missed one," Lamb said. "Things happen. Everybody can't make every foul shot they take. But we still had chances to win."
Calipari's plan was to foul Indiana before it got the chance to shoot a game-winning three-pointer, a strategy he stressed in a timeout before Lamb's made free throw.
"He said 'We got two fouls,'" Miller said. "He said, 'When they're dribbling up around halfcourt, foul 'em. Make sure they're not shooting.'"
But Teague attempted to foul IU's Verdell Jones III and missed.
"We had two fouls to use," Calipari said. "The whole timeout was about fouling. When Marquis tried to foul and they didn't call it no one (else) fouled."
Jones III said his plan was to look for a game-tying bucket, but Watford popped open and called for the ball. His aim was true, and his game-winner sent Assembly Hall into a frenzy, with fans storming onto the court.
"Our fans deserve that," Crean said. "They deserve to storm the court. They deserve to stand on tables and chairs."
The win means Indiana is "back in the hunt," Crean said. It certainly seemed to signal the return to relevance of the Kentucky-Indiana rivalry.
As for Calipari, he took some positives from a second-straight heart-stopper.
"I'm proud of my team," Calipari said. "I'm proud of how they gutted it out in the second half, how they played to win. And we did it without Terrence Jones. He absolutely gave us zero today, and that happens at times, but it's good to know we can win without him."
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