University of Louisville

Kentucky's Young picked right day for best game

Kentucky Wildcats guard James Young (1) scored past Louisville Cardinals forward Chane Behanan (21) as #18 Kentucky played #6 Louisville  on Saturday December 28, 2013 in  Lexington ,Ky.  Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats guard James Young (1) scored past Louisville Cardinals forward Chane Behanan (21) as #18 Kentucky played #6 Louisville on Saturday December 28, 2013 in Lexington ,Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff

It took nine minutes, 18 seconds and seven tries before James Young finally made a shot in Rupp Arena on Saturday.

He missed from all over the floor, and once he finally made a couple of three-pointers midway through the first half, he missed some more.

The freshman guard didn't have his best shooting performance — 5-for-17 from the field — in UK's 73-66 victory over Louisville, but it might have been his best game as a Wildcat.

Young tied team highs with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and he led the Wildcats with four assists. The latter two stats were career highs, and that's what helped Kentucky secure its biggest victory of the season.

"They had a lot of small guards, so I knew I could get a lot more rebounds," Young said. "I saw a lot of loose balls, so I tried to go for every loose ball."

His shots weren't falling early, but Young never stopped competing.

A three-minute sequence in the second half — not long after star teammate Julius Randle left the game for good — best summed up Young's day.

Louisville guard Russ Smith had tied the game at 53 with 8:45 remaining, and Young responded immediately. He grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed layup by Andrew Harrison and put it right back to give the Cats a lead they never relinquished.

When Luke Hancock hit a three-pointer two minutes later to cut UK's advantage to 60-56, Young answered seconds later with a three of his own to push the lead back to seven points.

The Cardinals never seriously challenged again.

"He fought," Coach John Calipari said. "He got that pass on the wing and made that three. That was a big play. They were making a run back at us. They make a three and he comes out and makes that three. Ooooh — big-time play."

That was Young's last field goal of the game, but he wasn't done yet.

On UK's next trip down the floor, Young made an impressive cross-court pass to Alex Poythress, who drove to the basket and earned a couple of free throws. The play after that, Young grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a pass all the way down the floor to Aaron Harrison, threading the ball past a U of L defender and putting it in just about the only spot that would allow for Harrison to catch it and score.

That basket gave UK a 66-56 lead with 5:21 left, U of L Coach Rick Pitino called a timeout, and Rupp Arena erupted.

"James was amazing," said Andrew Harrison. "He's a great player. A big-time player."

Young balked at the idea that it was his best showing as a Wildcat. "I've had better games," he said. But never a performance that meant as much as this one.

"We wanted to win this," he said. "Some of these guys have never been in a situation like this before. We just wanted to come out and play like a good team, and that's what we did. Everyone was involved and we had a lot of energy.

"You're going to see it a lot more now. We're coming closer as a team, and as a family."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments