Willie Cauley-Stein scored a season-high 21 points and made several defensive plays to key Kentucky’s 18-2 run to open the second half, helping the top-ranked Wildcats pull out a 63-51 win over No. 6 Texas on Friday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Normally playing on the first of Kentucky’s two talented platoons, Cauley-Stein began alongside fellow 7-footer Dakari Johnson and 6-10 Trey Lyles on the second squad and the big trio sparked the Wildcats’ game-changing sequence after a 26-all halftime tie.
They combined for the spurt’s first 10 points before Cauley-Stein’s tip-in provided a 44-28 lead with 11:20 remaining. That gave Kentucky (8-0) the cushion to hold off the stubborn Longhorns (7-1), who closed to 56-51 with 1:44 left before Cauley-Stein added a free throw and dunk.
Cauley-Stein added 12 rebounds for Kentucky, which was outrebounded 42-31 by Texas. Johnson finished with 11 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 10.