No. 9 UNC falls to No. 19 Kentucky
North Carolina had known about Kentucky’s Reid Travis prior to Saturday’s game in the CBS Sports Classic. Before transferring to Kentucky during the offseason, he played for Stanford and scored 21 points against the Tar Heels in November 2017.
“He’s a bull. He’s a work horse,” UNC senior guard Kenny Williams said Thursday of Travis.
Despite knowing what they knew, they still had no answer for him Saturday at the United Center.
Travis scored 20 points, 16 coming during the first half, and No. 19 Kentucky beat No. 9 UNC 80-72.
Graduate senior Cam Johnson led the Tar Heels with 17 points, and senior forward Luke Maye had 16.
The Tar Heels fell, a week after a 103-90 victory over then-No. 4 Gonzaga at home. The Tar Heels (8-3) had hoped that win would give them momentum heading into its game with the Wildcats. But there was a noticeable difference in the energy from the two games.
In this game, it was the Wildcats (9-2) showing the emotion.
At times UNC’s players made unnecessary turnovers, and Kentucky turned them into quick points. The Wildcats scored 20 points off the Tar Heels’ 17 turnovers.
UNC had a few chances to make the game closer. It got to 66-60 with 6:47 left. Sophomore forward Garrison Brooks rebounded a Kentucky miss but turned it over, and the Wildcats made him pay. Sophomore forward P.J. Washington hit a 3-pointer to make it a nine-point game lead.
Down by eight, with 2:24 left, the Tar Heels had a chance to cut into the lead, but Johnson missed a 3-point attempt. Instead Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson hit a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point gap.
UNC, again cut the lead to six with about 40 seconds to play, and Luke Maye had a chance to make it a three-point game. But he missed and the Tar Heels lost for the third time this season.