What happened in Vegas to No. 6 Kentucky on Wednesday night will not be staying in Vegas, much to the chagrin of Big Blue Nation. The Wildcats fell 69-66 to unranked Utah in yet another stunning loss for the Wildcats, their second on the season. It's the first win over an AP-ranked top-10 club for Utah since 2016.
The loss bumps Kentucky to 8-2 on the season with two dreadful losses: first to Evansville in November, when it was ranked No. 1. Now a loss to unranked (but underrated) Utah. It's the Utes' fifth consecutive win after a 4-2 start to their season and their first of the season over a ranked opponent. Utah improves to 9-2 overall with a tilt against undefeated San Diego State looming large on Saturday.
Much like when Kentucky was defeated by Evansville earlier this season, Utah tried to spread the Wildcats out offensively by attacking and kicking to get open looks. And much like Evansville, the Utes used that formula with great success, shooting 54.8% from the field and making 8-of-15 3-point attempts. Despite the upset, Utah controlled the game by slowing the pace and held the lead for 37:42 of game time. Kentucky led for eight seconds.
The Wildcats had possession and had a chance to tie or take the lead several times in the final minute, but their efforts proved fruitless. After a 6-0 run in under a minute to tie the game at 66, Kentucky failed to score in the final 113 seconds. One failed attempt came when Tyrese Maxey bulldozed down the lane and got a favorable block charge, however officials reviewed the play and reversed the call, instead calling Maxey for a charge. Maxey missed another 3-pointer with just over 10 seconds remaining that would have tied the game, and Immanuel Quickley missed another just before the buzzer.
Credit to Utah for playing better from the jump. There were two vastly different teams in this game: a Utah team looking to prove itself, and a Kentucky team zombie-walking until the second half. Utah popped off early and sapped Kentucky's juice. Timmy Allen led that effort with 25 points and nine boards for the Utes, while Both Gach added 14 points and six boards.
Kentucky struggled to generate offense while Utah lit it up from start to finish, and it's a wonder the 'Cats were in the mix at all late. They shot just 41.3% from the field and 11.8% from 3-point range on 2-of-17 shooting. Despite some pretty poor shooting performances this season, this was UK's worst from long range. Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey combined for 34 points, with Maxey's 18 leading the way. Hagans hit one of the only two 3-pointers, while Kahlil Whitney, who scored seven points off the bench, hit the other.
The Wildcats' stay in Vegas is one they'd likely like to forget, but it's not over just yet. They'll have to stew on this over the next few days before facing No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.