|Kentucky G Jarrod Polson had a career-high 10 points in Friday's 72-69 win over Maryland. (US Presswire)|
Kentucky 's roster is loaded with McDonald's All-Americans. So naturally, it was the former walk-on Jarrod Polson who was the difference late in the second half as the Wildcats beat Maryland 72-69 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday night.
Polson had 10 points -- he had scored seven points in 28 career games before Friday -- off the bench, and he was the one making plays down the stretch as Kentucky (1-0) was starting to waver a bit.
First, Polson put back Nerlens Noel's miss with 5:03 to play that put Kentucky ahead for good at 63-62.
Then, with the Wildcats leading Maryland (0-1) 65-63, Noel missed a free throw, and Maryland PG Pe'Shon Howard got the rebound. However, Polson was there to knock the ball away and lay it in for a 67-63 lead with 3:43 left.
It was also Polson who hit the final two free throws with eight seconds remaining to give Kentucky a 72-69 lead, forcing Maryland to have to go for a three on its final possession.
The Terrapins were down 15 points early in the second half but used a 15-0 run that began at the 17:10 mark and ended at 11:06 to get back in the game. Sophomore C Alex Len had a game-high 23 points with 12 rebounds to lead Maryland.
When the game turned: The game turned with Polson's impact plays. He gave Kentucky its last lead of the game, and he also preserved the advantage with his steal of Howard and late free throws.
Highlight moments: Early in the second half, Goodwin drove down the lane, drew two defenders and lobbed a pass to Noel who slammed it home. The dunk put Kentucky up 53-38 with 17:26 to play. The Wildcats, however, would not score again until the 11:06 mark.
Maryland F Dez Wells hit F Jake Layman on the left wing for an open three point attempt. Layman buried the shot, which was Maryland's first made 3-pointer in 15 attempts to that point, and it brought Maryland to within 53-51.
- Kentucky F Kyle Wiltjer -- 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks.
- Kentucky G Archie Goodwin -- 16 points, 9 of 11 FT, 37 minutes played in his debut.
- Maryland C Alex Len -- Career-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, career-high 12 rebounds, 4 blocks.
From Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
How much did Polson factor in the scouting report? Turgeon: "Uh, zero. ... He subbed into the table and I said, ‘Who's that?' "— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) November 10, 2012
From Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post:
Turgeon: "We're going to win, and we're going to win this year. We just didn't win tonight. I can promise you that."— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) November 10, 2012
Numbers you should know: Maryland -- The Terrapins had 28 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Kentucky 54-38. Part of that had to do with their 33.3 field goal percentage, but Maryland's front court of Len, James Padgett, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare should be an advantage moving forward. Kentucky -- The Wildcats blocked 11 shots Friday night. Despite the loss of No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Anthony Davis, Kentucky is once again a force in the paint after leading the country last year with 8.6 blocks per game.
- Kentucky: vs. No. 8 Duke (1-0) in Atlanta, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET, (ESPN).
- Maryland: vs. Morehead State (1-0), Monday, 8 p.m. ET (RSN).
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.