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Off the cuff: A record crowd at Rupp Arena watched Kentucky defeat Carolina, in a matchup of college basketball's two winningest programs. Kentucky now has 1,996 wins compared to 1,991 for Carolina.

So much was made of John Wall, who did play a good game and whose departure with leg cramps helped the Tar Heels. The Associated Press described it this way, "The win provided redemption of sorts for the Raleigh, N.C., native, who dreamed about playing for the Tar Heels. Though North Carolina pursued him throughout high school, his relationship with coach Roy Williams cooled during his senior year. Wall said Williams called him before last spring's NCAA tournament, saying the two would talk when the tournament was over. Williams never called back, and Wall opted for Kentucky. He did his best to show Williams what the Tar Heels are missing."

I don't think Coach Williams regrets not signing Wall. His troubles off the court are not needed in Chapel Hill and his on the court abilities would only be shown for one year in Chapel Hill, which would only slowi the development of players who are going to be here a while. Long-term negatives for a short-term gain.

It's concerning that the Tar Heels give up a slew of points at a time. A Syracuse run ruined Carolina's chances of winning that game and at 28-2 run by Kentucky all but did in the Tar Heels this time. Still, if a layup here or a free throw there had gone down, UNC could have won this game.

Wildcats 68, Heels 66
Carolina hits the Wall against Kentucky

North Carolina rallied from a 19-point deficit but could not get over the hump as the homestanding Kentucky Wildcats topped UNC 68-66. (12/5)

The Tar Heels jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead but got stuck there as Kentucky freshman John Wall, rejected by his home state's Tar Heels, led the Wildcats on a frantic 28-2 run.

During the first half, Kentucky, ranked fifth, dropped in six of nine three pointers and shot 57 percent while Carolina, ranked 10th, shot just 37 percent and turned the ball over 11 times leading to 20 Wildcat points.

Kentucky took a 15-point lead into the half at 43-28. UNC coach Roy Williams noted at the half that he didn't think he'd ever had a team that failed to get a fastbreak basket in a half while the other team picked up 12 fastbreak points.

Wall, leading the offense, was a main reason why. He went coast to coast past defenders for a dunk and excited the crowd with a nifty reverse layup to highlight the big first-half run.

Carolina fought back valiantly in the second half, with Wall out with a leg cramp, even getting the deficit to under 10 in just the first four minutes. A rushing Deon Thompson took a bounce pass from Larry Drew II and went in for a dunk, taking a hard foul. He converted the free throw to pull the Heels to 45-36.

Ed Davis completed a UNC 10-0 run with a drive down the lane to make it 45-38. But John Henson's dunk attempt was blocked and Kentucky came right back down for two of their own to stop the bleeding. In turn, the Wildcats got the lead back up to 13 before the Tar Heels came roaring back again.

A three-point shot by UNC freshman David Ware cut the lead to just five at 54-49 with 10 minutes still to play. But quick buckets by Kentucky during a stretch where the Tar Heels turned it over and missed the front end of a one-and-one situation turned Carolina back again.

With six minutes to go, Drew found Marcus Ginyard on the baseline for a dunk to cut it to 59-53. After a Davis block of a Wall shot caused a shot clock violation, Tyler Zeller spinned to the basket for two to make it 59-56 with 4:25 to go.

Drew missed a three that would have tied it and Carolina missed two other opportunities to cut into the lead until Deon Thompson swished a jumper from the right baseline that make it 63-61 with 32 seconds left.

But it never got closer as Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe sank four free throws and Wall two down the stretch to close it out. UNC's Graves hit a three at the buzzer for the final two-point margin.

Patrick Patterson led Kentucky (8-0) in scoring with 19 points while Thompson had 14 for Carolina (7-2). Graves finished with 13 and Zeller 10 for the only other Heels in double figures.

Carolina plays Presbyterian at home Dec. 12.


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