For the second week in a row, the No. 1 team in college basketball has fallen. A day after being named the AP Top 25's No. 1 team, Kentucky, which handed preseason No. 1 Michigan State its first loss of the season a week ago, fell in a stunning 67-64 upset to Evansville.
All the more stunning: The Wildcats fell flat on their home floor, where they hadn't lost a nonconference game since 2017 when Kansas upended them 79-73 as part of the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It snaps a 52-game winning streak over unranked nonconference opponents at home.
Kentucky shot a dismal 4-of-17 from the 3-point line and 37% from the floor in Tuesday's loss to the Purple Aces.
Evansville, meanwhile, shot 38.3 percent from the floor and knocked down 9-of-30 attempts from beyond the arc. It closed on a pair of Sam Cunliffe free throws in the final seconds to give Evansville a 3-point lead, and a last-second trey attempt from Tyrese Maxey fell flat.
The win for Evansville marks a spectacular homecoming for its coach, Walter McCarty, a Kentucky alumnus who played for the Wildcats in the 1990s. He is in his second season serving as a head coach at any level after stints as assistant coach at the college level with Louisville and at the NBA level with the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. He won a national championship with Kentucky, and Tuesday, he put the win over his alma mater in the same category feeling-wise as winning it all.
“I don’t know if anything matches this, other than winning a national championship,” Walter McCarty, who won a national championship, just said in his postgame presser.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 13, 2019
"Our guys stuck together, we executed, and we really trusted each other," said McCarty after the game. "It was a team win. I'm very proud of our guys. We've got veteran players; I think we match up with a lot of teams well."
Kentucky coach John Calipari praised Evansville after the game, saying they were "the tougher team" all night and that Evansville was "better prepared" than Kentucky.
"They beat us," said Calipari. "This wasn't us giving them a game. They took it from us. They came into Rupp Arena, where not many people win, and they won a tough game."
The Wildcats were 24.5-point favorites entering the game after an impressive 2-0 start to their season that included the win over the Spartans. According to ESPN, that makes a tie for the third-largest upset in college basketball in the last 15 seasons. One of the other three upsets also involved Kentucky when, in 2007, it fell to Gardner-Webb as 26 point favorites.