No. 3 Kentucky avoided what would have been a monumental upset on Friday against Maryland, doing just enough down the stretch to emerge victorious in Brooklyn, 72-69.
The Wildcats jumped off to a 49-36 lead at halftime, igniting the scoreboard while shooting 61 percent from the floor and holding the Terrapins to 30 percent shooting.
Freshman guard Archie Goodwin was outstanding in his first half of college basketball, scoring 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting, including going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports Network compared Goodwin to Brooklyn Nets second-year guard MarShon Brooks:
So much Marshon Brooks in Archie Goodwin...— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 10, 2012
Sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer added 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in the first half. He went 4-for-5 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from the three-point line.
Maryland center Alex Len was one of few Terrapins who played well in the first half, posting 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting while recording seven rebounds and one block.
Freshman sensation Nerlens Noel was solid on the other side of the ball, posting two blocks and two rebounds in the first half.
Sports Illustrated tweeted:
Who else is loving this matchup between Nerlens Noel and Alex Len? Let's hope they keep going at each other.— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 10, 2012
Maryland stormed back in the second half, though, getting after the ball and keeping the high-powered Kentucky offense at bay.
The offense also picked up for the Terrapins, making their first three-pointer of the ballgame with 12:10 remaining and continuing to find ways to score.
Bleacher Report's own Eric Ball tweeted:
#FeartheTurtle. Maryland finally hits a three-pointer and now all the pressure is on UK— Eric Ball (@BigLeagueEball) November 10, 2012
Maryland was also able to dominate the glass, recording an astounding 23 offensive rebounds that led to second-chance points.
The atmosphere was electric throughout at Barclays Center with the prospect of a huge upset hanging in the balance.
But Kentucky began to pull away in the final minutes, aided by some hustle plays by Noel and the surprising play of former walk-on guard Jarrod Polson, who played down the stretch for starter Ryan Harrow.
Wiltjer finished with a team-high 19 points while adding six rebounds and three blocks. Goodwin scored 16 points. Noel posted four points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks in his first game for Kentucky.
Len went 10-of-18 for 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a losing effort for the Terps.