When Kentucky plays Seton Hall, the rims must cower in fear.
The last time the teams played, Kentucky did not make a three-point shot. The Cats missed their only two attempts as Seton Hall won the 1988 Great Alaska Shootout. UK’s streak of 1,047 games making a three-pointer began in the next game.
Kentucky and Seton Hall shot better than that Saturday, maybe so good that both teams could display swagger and attitude, which was how UK Coach John Calipari described Seton Hall’s style earlier in the week.
PJ Washington rose from the debris of missed shots. But unfortunately for Kentucky, so did Seton Hall guard Myles Powell.
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Ultimately, a three-pointer by Myles Cale gave Seton Hall an 84-83 victory in overtime over Kentucky.
UK contested the winning shot. Twice. Washington flew by Cale, forcing him to reload the shot. Nick Richards approached with his right hand high in the air. But he was a split-second too late to prevent the shot.
The winning shot was one of many displays of clutch play.
Powell’s pull-up jumper over Immanuel Quickley with 1.1 seconds left put Seton Hall ahead 70-67 near the end of regulation.
But after the clock was re-set to 1.5 seconds, Keldon Johnson tied it. He took a guarded inbounds pass from Washington and heaved a shot from mid-court to send the game into overtime.
The kind of back and forth that can stagger teams continued into the extra period.
A three-pointer by Powell put Seton Hall ahead 81-77 with 1:33 left. Kentucky answered with a driving layup by Ashton Hagans and a three-pointer by Johnson. The latter put UK ahead 82-81 with 43.8 seconds left.
Looking like the player associate coach Kenny Payne had said could carry Kentucky, Washington did just that. His third double-double of the season — a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds — were enough to prevent Kentucky from losing for the second time in nine games.
Reid Travis added 13 points, while Tyler Herro and Johnson chipped in 10 apiece.
Powell scored 25 of his 28 points in the second half or overtime. But even with Powell struggling to score, Seton Hall hung close.
With the score tied at 51-51 inside the final six minutes, Washington scored four of UK’s next five baskets.
With the score tied at 67-67 inside the final minute, UK went to — who else? — Washington. But Seton Hall had pushed him off the block, which complicated his scoring chances.
Washington missed a driving shot. After Seton Hall rebounded, but was called for a player control foul in securing the ball, Kentucky got another chance. Washington
The first half was nearly devoid of pretty basketball. The teams combined to make 16 of 50 shots.
So it seemed almost fitting that Quickley would shoot Kentucky to a 31-25 halftime lead. He made two three-pointers in the final 5:19, the second came with 24 seconds left and set the halftime score. Quickley came into the game having made only four of 18 three-point shots.
Washington led UK’s first-half scoring with 11 points. He established an unusually aggressive tone from the start. He took five shots before the first television timeout . This from a player who had averaged seven shots in the three most recent games.
Washington’s seven shots in the first half nearly matched his season’s average of 8.3 shots per game.
Besides scoring, Washington’s assertiveness paid another dividend. Seton Hall’s starting center, Sandro Mamukelashvili, went to the bench with three fouls at the 2:43 mark.
Seton Hall, which made nine of 29 shots, got little from its leading scorer. Powell made only one of four shots in the first half.
The first half also featured the first appearance in two seasons by UK guard Jemarl Baker. With Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro having picked up two fouls, Baker came in for a minute of relief late in the half.
The second half began with promise for Kentucky. Mamukelashvili picked up his fourth foul with 15:24 left and went to the bench.
But shortly thereafter Seton Hall scored 11 straight points to take a 43-39 lead with 12:40 left.
The score was tied at 51-51 at the third TV timeout of the second half. A possession-by-possession test of nerves down the stretch seemed inevitable.
Utah at No. 9 Kentucky
5 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)