Gardner-Webb hands Gillispie first UK loss in win over No. 20 'Cats

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coach Billy Gillispie's second game at Kentucky turned out to be the first shocker of the college basketball season.

Grayson Flittner scored 22 points to help Gardner-Webb beat the No. 20 Wildcats 84-68 Wednesday night in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.

The Wildcats hadn't lost a regular-season game to a mid-major since falling to Western Kentucky on Nov. 15, 2001, in that season's opener. They lost to Alabama-Birmingham in 2004 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky's last home loss to an unranked nonconference foe was Dec. 3, 2005, against North Carolina.

The tournament had been set up to send four top programs -- No. 3 Memphis, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Kentucky -- to New York next week to play in the semifinals.

However, instead of the Wildcats, Gardner-Webb, which finished 9-21 last season and tied for seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference, will play the winner of Thursday night's game between Buffalo and Connecticut.

Gillispie opened his tenure as Kentucky coach Tuesday night with a 67-40 victory over Central Arkansas. The former Texas A&M coach took over the Wildcats after Tubby Smith left for Minnesota.

Ramel Bradley led Kentucky with 24 points, including going 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.

Gillispie was far more animated Tuesday night. In this one, he just knelt on the sideline and shook his head. Afterward, he walked down the sideline to shake hands with each of the Gardner-Webb players.

Although the Rupp Arena fans mildly applauded their support when the final horn sounded, the boo-birds came out early when the game appeared to be slipping away from Kentucky's grasp.

As it turned out, the Wildcats never had control of this game, trailing 14-0 four minutes in, missing its first four shots and turning the ball over four times during that span.

The Bulldogs took a 26-10 lead midway through the half on a 3-pointer by Flittner.

Kentucky cut the deficit to seven less than three minutes later on a long jumper by Joe Crawford but would get no closer.

Crawford, a senior guard and regular starter last year, didn't crack the starting lineup for the second consecutive game under Gillispie despite leading the team with 20 points Tuesday against Central Arkansas.

Gardner-Webb led 38-27 at halftime, and Thomas Sanders began the second half with a three-point play to put the Wildcats deeper into a hole.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service


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