LEXINGTON, Ky. – Evansville showed no fear either of Kentucky or venerable Rupp Arena, where the Wildcats had been perfect at ruining visitors' dreams of pulling off the seemingly impossible.
Until Tuesday night.
Not only did the Purple Aces deal No. 1 Kentucky a stunning 67-64 upset, they beat the bigger, stronger Wildcats at their own game. When it was over, players, coaches and their fans whooped it up in a corner of the famed court, making sure they savored every bit of a momentous victory.
“To be here is a dream come true,” Evansville forward DeAndre Williams said. “We took advantage and we made history.”
Sam Cunliffe scored 17 points, including two free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining to silence Kentucky (2-1) and a crowd of 19,101.
K.J. Riley added 18 points as the Purple Aces – coached by Walter McCarty, who won a national title with Kentucky in 1996 – pulled off the biggest upset in program history with their first win over a No. 1 team in three tries.
Evansville led much of the game and answered each Kentucky rally with clutch baskets to grab the lead and then maintain it for the season's biggest upset.
Kentucky had been 39-0 at home against unranked, nonconference opponents when ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. Evansville, meanwhile, got its first-ever road win over an AP-ranked team.
“Walter and their team deserved to win,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “My hat's off to them. It's hard to do that in this building, but they were more ready to play. He had his team better prepared than I had my team.”
Evansville won just 11 games last season, its first under McCarty, who played in the NBA for 10 years and was an assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino and in the NBA before returning to his hometown to coach the Purple Aces.
NOTRE DAME 79, HOWARD 50: In South Bend, John Mooney powered for game highs of 18 points, 16 rebounds and five assists as Notre Dame rolled over Howard in the first-ever meeting between the schools Tuesday night.
Juwan Durham and Dane Goodwin added 11 points apiece for the Fighting Irish (2-1).
SAINT FRANCIS 78, MICHIGAN-DEARBORN 70: In Dearborn, Michigan, Lance Dollison scored 14 points and added 8 rebounds as the Cougars (5-0) stayed undefeated. James Anderson (13), Antwaan Cushingberry (12), and Jeffery Reynolds (12) also scored in double figures for Saint Francis.
INDIANA TECH 90, GRACE 76: At the Schaefer Center, DeAnn Kauffman scored 32 points and added 12 rebounds and 7 assists to lead the Warriors.
Alexis Hill added 14 points and 16 rebounds and Rachel Bell chipped in 13 assists as Indiana Tech improved to 3-1. Grace Vironnica Drake had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Kyannah Stull scored 20 points as Grace fell to 4-1.
SAINT FRANCIS 124, OHIO CHRISTIAN 62: At the Hutzell Athletic Center, Cassidy Crawford and Emma Applegate 21 points apice and and Savannah Buck added 10 assists as the Cougars improved to 5-1. Saint Francis set a Hutzell scoring record as well as a record for 3-pointers made with 21.
BALL STATE 83, PFW 52: At the Gates Sports Center, the Cardinals shot 65 percent in the opening 10 minutes to set the tone in its first win of the season. The Cardinals (1-1) were led in scoring by Anna Clephane with 16 points.