Freshman John Wall took over during a key stretch in the second half and DeMarcus Cousins scored 18 points and matched a season high with 18 rebounds to lead No. 3 Kentucky past rival Louisville, 71-62, yesterday in Lexington.
Wall and Patrick Patterson scored 17 points each for the Wildcats (15-0), who matched their best start in 40 years by breaking a two-game losing streak to the Cardinals.
Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith led Louisville (10-4) with 11 points apiece but the Cardinals shot just 32 percent and couldn’t contain Wall when it mattered.
The freshman star shook off a slow start by scoring 6 straight points during a decisive 14-3 run late in the second half after the Cardinals had surged to the lead.
“I’m playing at another level I never thought I could play at,’’ Wall said. “I always played good when I was in high school but playing for [coach John] Calipari, he’s going to take you to another level and get you better. I thought I was at the top of my potential when I was in high school. I’m nowhere near it.’’
Louisville coach Rick Pitino was booed lustily early by the record Rupp Arena crowd of 24,479, but they quickly moved on after the Cardinals erased a 13-point deficit. Louisville pulled in front, 42-41, on a free throw by Terrence Jennings with 9:51 left before Wall went to work.
“When a game gets a little tight like that, with the game on the line, it just shows you how great Wall is because it didn’t faze him,’’ Pitino said.
Wall hit a tough leaner along the baseline to put Kentucky back in front, then added a pull-up jumper to extend the lead to 3. He stole the ball from Louisville’s Peyton Siva and knocked down two free throws after being fouled trying to finish on the break.
Pitino and former friend turned friendly rival Calipari shook hands briefly as the horn sounded, both coaches only too happy to put one of the most contentious meetings in the series’ long history behind them.
Calipari had urged fans to behave themselves, and for the most part they obliged.
Security officials confiscated any signs they deemed inappropriate, though the crowd made sure to remind Pitino of his troubling summer when he admitted to having an affair six years ago with a woman later charged with trying to extort him for millions.
Pittsburgh 82, Syracuse 72 - Ashton Gibbs scored 24 points and Jermaine Dixon added 21 to help the visiting Panthers hand the No. 5 Orange their first loss, dropping the number of major unbeaten teams to four.
Pittsburgh (12-2, 2-0 Big East) has beaten Syracuse (13-1, 1-1) the last four times it has visited the Carrier Dome.
Wes Johnson led Syracuse with 19 points.
UConn 82, Notre Dame 70 - Stanley Robinson scored 22 points and had a career-high 16 rebounds to lead the No. 10 Huskies past the Irish in Hartford.
Jerome Dyson added 20 points, 16 in the second half, and 10 assists for UConn (10-3, 1-1 Big East). Kemba Walker had 11 points and 10 assists, only the second time in school history two players have reached double digits in assists in the same game.
Luke Harangody had 31 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (12-3, 1-1).
Kansas 84, Temple 52 - In Philadelphia, freshman Xavier Henry had 15 points and Marcus Morris had a big homecoming with 13 as the No. 1 Jayhawks snapped the No. 18 Owls’ seven-game winning streak.
Sherron Collins scored 14 points for Kansas (13-0), which has won nine games this season by at least 25 points.
Ryan Brooks and Juan Fernandez each had 11 points for Temple (11-3), which already had a win over a top-five team this season over then-No. 3 Villanova, 75-65, Dec. 13.
Texas 76, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 70 - Dexter Pittman scored 18 points and the No. 2 Longhorns stayed undefeated with a tougher-than-expected win over the scrappy Islanders in Austin.
Damion James got his fourth consecutive double-double for cold-shooting Texas (13-0) with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-7) held Texas to 35 percent shooting and outrebounded the Longhorns, 47-37.
Villanova 74, Marquette 72 - Scottie Reynolds hit a jumper in the lane with 18.1 seconds left for the lead, and the No. 8 Wildcats (12-1, 1-0 Big East) held on to beat the Golden Eagles (9-5, 0-2) in Milwaukee.
Reynolds scored 23 points, including 16 in the second half, and Maalik Wayns added 16 points off the bench for the Wildcats (12-1, 1-0 Big East).
Michigan St. 91, Northwestern 70 - Kalin Lucas scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and the No. 11 Spartans (11-3, 1-0 Big Ten) pulled away to rout the No. 25 Wildcats (10-3, 0-2) in Evanston, Ill.
Oregon 90, Washington 79 - Malcolm Armstead scored 21 points and the Ducks (10-4, 2-0 Pac-10) snapped the No. 17 Huskies’ 18-game home winning streak. Isaiah Thomas had a game-high 25 points for Washington (10-3, 1-1).
UAB 73, Arkansas 72 - Howard Crawford scored on a dunk with one second left to lift the No. 24 Blazers (12-2) over the host Razorbacks (7-7).
The victory was the 800th in school history, making UConn the ninth program to achieve that milestone.
Stanford 79, California 58 - Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 24 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help the No. 2 Cardinal (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10) rout the visiting Golden Bears (6-6, 0-1), their 34th win in the last 37 games in the rivalry.