K.J. Riley scored 18 points and Sam Cunliffe added 17 off the bench as Evansville stunned No. 1 Kentucky 67-64 on Tuesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Per the SEC Network broadcast (via Adam Zagoria of the New York Times), Tuesday marked the first time an unranked nonconference opponent beat the Wildcats on their home floor in 53 attempts.
The Wildcats shot just 37.0 percent from the field and hit only four of their 17 three-point attempts. Evansville did not shoot well either (38.3 percent) but nailed nine threes in 30 tries.
The Purple Aces led until the final buzzer following Riley's three with 7:18 remaining in the second half, which put his team up 56-53.
The Wildcats' Tyrese Maxey hit a layup to cut the deficit to 65-64 with nine seconds left, but Cunliffe made two free throws.
With six seconds left, Maxey drove down the court and hoisted a deep three, but it fell short.
Evansville went 11-21 and finished last in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2018-19. The Purple Aces were projected in a preseason poll to land eighth in the 10-team league this year. They defeated Ball State in their opener Saturday and entered the evening ranked 152nd in the Division I Sagarin ratings.
Second-year Evansville coach Walter McCarty is a Kentucky legend who was an integral part of its 1995-96 national championship team. He also played in the NBA from 1996 to 2006.
Kentucky beat then-No. 1 Michigan State 69-62 in New York last week to open the season before defeating Eastern Kentucky 91-49 on Friday. On Tuesday, Immanuel Quickley led the Wildcats with 16 points, and Maxey added 15 off the bench.
After the game, the Purple Aces celebrated in their locker room:
Not only did they get the win, but Yahoo Sports noted the Wildcats paid them $90,000 to play at Rupp Arena.
ESPN Stats and Info and Dari Nowkhah of ESPN offered more context for Evansville's huge win:
Per Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, McCarty called the night his best moment at Rupp Arena. The ex-Wildcat has had plenty of those, capped by the 1995-96 season in which McCarty and the rest of the "Untouchables" went undefeated in 13 home games en route to a 34-2 record and the program's sixth of eight national titles.
Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated presented a theory:
And Justin Rowland of CatsIllustrated offered his assessment of the team's effort:
Kentucky will look to rebound against visiting Utah Valley on Monday. Evansville will host Indiana University Kokomo on Thursday.