A key injury spelled doom for Yale at the Palestra in a 66-64 loss to Penn Friday.
With 18 minutes left in the game and the score knotted at 33-33, Yale leading scorer Matt Knowling rolled his ankle. He would not return to the game and his status for tonight against Princeton is questionable.
Penn hung on in a defensive struggle featuring 14 lead changes in which Yale converted just three field goals in the final 5:26. The visitors’ fate was sealed when a fallaway shot landed off base after Yale got the ball back down two with 5.1 seconds left following a 1-for-2 trip to the foul line by Ivy League free-throw percentage leader Clark Slajchert.
John Calipari had a halftime message for his Kentucky Wildcats against Yale Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena.
With his ‘Cats clinging to only a six-point lead, Calipari told them in no uncertain terms to get the ball inside to reigning Associated Press National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe.
Tshiebwe answered with 22 second-half points to lead No. 16 Kentucky to a 69-59 home win before a crowd of 20,264 over pesky Yale. The Bulldogs actually held a 35-33 lead with 17:26 left before Tshiebwe took over underneath. He finished with a season-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds.
Yale (8-3) played without its leading scorer Matt Knowling, who was out with a bicep injury.
The score was knotted at 6-6 early. Kentucky went on a 9-0 run consisting of three treys to grab a 25-13 lead. Yale then went on a tear highlighted by a Jack Molloy triple to cut the Wildcat advantage to 28-25. Kentucky (7-2) led by 33-27 at the half. Yale shot 40% in the first half and only trailed the physical hosts 20-18 in rebounds. Senior forward EJ Jarvis posted eight first-half points.
Yale rung up the first eight points of the second half, culminating in a John Poulakidas two from close range.
Calipari then shifted to a full-court press, and Kentucky finally succeeded in getting the ball inside to Tshiebwe. The Democratic Republic of the Congo native scored 12 straight points to give Kentucky a 53-47 lead which it never relinquished.
Yale received a far more even whistle than it did at Colorado or Butler, getting whistled for 13 fouls to 14 for Kentucky.
Yale coach James Jones called the outing ”a great effort by the team.”
Calipari called Yale a NCAA Tournament team.
”Harvard and Yale are going to be battling,” Calipari said. “They’re both really good teams.”
Molloy finished the game with a career-high 14 points, and Jarvis registered 12 points and seven rebounds.
Kentucky finished the game with a narrow 31-30 rebounding edge. Yale shot 43% for the game.
This was the second all-time meeting between Yale and Kentucky. The Wildcats beat Yale 79-58 in 1961, a year in which Yale won the Ivy League at 13-1 and received an NCAA bid.
Yale was supposed to play Gonzaga instead of Kentucky, but Zags coach Mark Few ran into a scheduling conflict because of a Gonzaga game against Kentucky and assisted in getting Yale a game at the latter.
It was the third of six straight road games for Yale. The Elis do not have a home game in December. They play at Fairfield in the brand new Leo D. Mahoney Arena on Monday night.
The Yale men’s basketball team improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season that it finished in the NCAA Tournament round of 32 with an 80-51 thrashing of Mississippi Valley State Sunday.
The game in the Outrigger Rainbow Classic in Honolulu wasn’t even that close.