John Wall proved to be worth the wait.
The heralded Kentucky freshman scored 19 points _ including the game-winning jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining _ to lift the fourth-ranked Wildcats to a 72-70 win over Miami of Ohio on Monday night.
After Miami's Kenny Hayes hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 70 with six seconds left, Wall raced down the floor and pulled up from the wing. The ball fell through the net and Wall raced up the floor pounding his chest in celebration as the crowd roared.
Patrick Patterson had 17 points and 10 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins had 10 points and 10 boards for the Wildcats (2-0).
Nick Winbush led Miami with 26 points and the RedHawks nearly pulled off the upset thanks to making 15 of 26 3-pointers.
Wall, considered the top high school player in the country when he signed with the Wildcats last spring, was forced to sit out Kentucky's season-opening win over Morehead State last week as part of an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits from his AAU coach.
His arrival didn't come a moment too soon for the Wildcats, who struggled to rein in Miami's red-hot shooters.
The RedHawks (0-2) led by as much as 18 in the first half and responded late after the Wildcats finally appeared to take control.
A Cousins lay-up gave Kentucky a 69-67 lead with 1:29 left. The teams traded turnovers before Hayes tried to make a difficult layup in the lane with 32 seconds left. Wall went to the line and made one of two free throws to put the Wildcats up 70-67 with 19 seconds left.
Hayes tied it when Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe left him alone at the top of the key.
Rather than call timeout, the Wildcats quickly inbounded the ball to Wall. He dribbled up the left side and pulled up from about 17 feet.
Wall wasn't perfect _ he turned it over five times _ but he looked at ease with the ball in his hands and hardly bothered with the hype surrounding his arrival.
Having a little help from Patterson and Cousins helped. After struggling to find any rhythm in the first half, Kentucky got back in the game by going inside. The Wildcats held a 37-25 rebounding edge and outscored the RedHawks 32-12 in the paint.
Wall didn't waste any time getting comfortable, he drilled his first shot, a 3-pointer from the top of the key, to give Kentucky an early 8-5 lead.
The RedHawks, however, were hardly in awe.
Miami packed in its zone to cut off Wall and Bledsoe from getting to the lane and didn't hesitate to lay a body on Wall's slender 6-foot-3 frame. He was bumped nearly every time he got into traffic and received a rude welcome to college basketball while running on the fast break.
Wall running down the wing when Bledsoe attempted to hit him with an alley-oop. Hayes, however, jumped up to contest it, deflecting the pass away and sending Wall tumbling to the floor along the baseline in the process.
Wall laid on the floor for several moments before gingerly walking off the court. He returned after getting a once-over from the training staff,
Miami used a stunning 22-2 run midway through the first half to take a 36-18 lead. The RedHawks hit six 3-pointers during the burst, three of them coming from Winbush. When the last of those hit the net, an uneasy buzz filled the arena as memories of nonconference losses to Gardner-Webb and Virginia Military Institute under former coach Billy Gillispie seemed to come flooding back.
The RedHawks seemed to blunt their own momentum by slowing down and milking the shot clock. The move allowed Kentucky to gather itself defensively, and the Wildcats responded with an 18-3 run to close within 39-36 at the half.