Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Kentucky shot 1-for-12 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 42-31 on its home floor.
But Willie Cauley-Stein and the No. 1 Wildcats still found a way past sixth- ranked Texas, 63-51, in their first real test of the season.
Cauley-Stein's best game as a college player couldn't have come at a better time for the Wildcats, who struggled to score all night but got it done on the defensive end.
The 7-footer was dominant on D while also posting a career-high 21 points. He finished with 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots.
"Well, he was ridiculous today," said Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who went away from his platoon system in the second half to give Cauley-Stein more minutes. "I told my team, I'll do that with other guys, too."
"This is one of the biggest reasons that I came back is to just develop myself as a basketball player," Cauley-Stein added. "I feel like I am just starting to do that."
Dakari Johnson scored 11 points, Karl-Anthony Towns netted 10, and Alex Poythress chipped in eight for the unbeaten Wildcats (8-0).
Open looks were at a premium for Texas (7-1), which finished just 14-of-47 from the floor and 4-for-20 from behind the arc. Jonathan Holmes paced the Longhorns with 14 points and Demarcus Holland had 10 with a game-high five assists.
"I don't know if I have ever coached a game where the size and the strength physically was what it was," Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. "That was a big boy game."
After a balanced first half, Kentucky asserted its dominance out of the break. Trey Lyles and Johnson both scored a pair of field goals and Cauley-Stein made two free throws during a 10-0 run to open the second half.
Prince Ibeh broke the seal for Texas with a dunk on a feed from Holland, but the Wildcats scored the next eight to build a comfortable 16-point lead. Cauley-Stein's alley-oop in transition from Aaron Harrison, which accounted for the 39th and 40th points, nearly brought the roof off of Rupp Arena.
Two Texas runs of 7-0 and 6-0 later in the half had the Longhorns within striking distance.
It was 53-47 with under three minutes to go when Cauley-Stein intercepted an entry pass from Connor Lammert and Andrew Harrison hit Kentucky's first 3- pointer at the other end.
In poetic fashion, Cauley-Stein put an exclamation mark on the win with another alley-oop from Andrew Harrison with less than a minute to play. He left the court to a rousing ovation moments later.
The Longhorns turned it over seven times in the first eight minutes of the game, but they still led 10-9 at the second media timeout following Kendal Yancy's putback layup.
It was 20-14 when Kentucky finally got going. Towns drew a flagrant 1 foul on Holmes and made both free throws, then knocked down a jumper from the nail. Tyler Ulis scored in transition following Yancy's missed jumper, and just like that, the game was tied.
Out of a timeout, Cauley-Stein went to a righty jump hook to put Kentucky in front, 22-20. Texas then scored six of the next eight points and Cauley- Stein made another hook shot to send the two teams into halftime tied at 26.
This was Kentucky's lowest margin of victory this season ... Texas fell to 0-8 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams ... Kentucky forced 22 turnovers while coughing it up just eight times ... There were seven ties and eight lead changes.