No. 1 Kentucky cruises past UNC

Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Devin Booker and Willie Cauley-Stein each scored 15 points as top-ranked Kentucky remained undefeated with an 84-70 victory over No. 21 North Carolina.

Aaron Harrison added 14 points and the Wildcats shot 56.3 percent from the floor in a performance far more impressive then Wednesday's lethargic 10-point home win over heavy underdog Columbia.

"There are times I watch this team and I go, 'wow!'," said Wildcats head coach John Calipari. "And then there are other times I'm like, 'what in the world?'"

Kentucky (11-0) also asserted itself on the defensive end, forcing 18 Tar Heel turnovers that it converted into 24 points, and was never seriously threatened for the majority of this high-profile battle of basketball blue bloods.

"If we can play this way against top teams in the country, we should be playing like that all the time," Cauley-Stein said.

Brice Johnson led North Carolina (6-3) with 15 points, though most of that total came the game's early stages. Marcus Paige finished with 14 points in the loss.

The Tar Heels entered Saturday's showdown fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense, but Kentucky scored at will all throughout a fast-paced first half to build a commanding 49-34 lead at the break.

Johnson kept the Tar Heels in it early on by tallying 12 points on 6-on-7 shooting over the game's first 12 1/2 minutes, including four during an 11-3 run that brought UNC within 22-19 with 11:29 left in the opening period.

However, he picked up his second foul with just over eight minutes to go in the frame and went to the bench shortly thereafter, and Kentucky dominated the remainder of the half.

The Wildcats outscored UNC 15-7 during the final 6 1/2 minutes of the stanza, highlighted by three straight treys from Harrison that accounted for Kentucky's 15-point advantage at intermission.

Kentucky went 6-for-12 as a team from 3-point range over the initial 20 minutes, while making 13-of-17 free throws as well with several Tar Heel players saddled with foul trouble.

"I told John (Calipari) before the game, we can cure a lot of peoples' 3-point woes," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said. "We tried to play a little bit of zone early and we haven't played any zone this year. We didn't do a good enough job in the zone. We didn't get there and guard them."

The Wildcats maintained a double-digit lead until an 11-2 UNC run, capped by Theo Pinson's 3-pointer with 10:22 remaining, cut the margin to 66-57. It was a 70-60 game after Paige knocked down a trey with 8:08 to go, but the Tar Heels went more than four minutes without a basket as Kentucky pulled away.

Andrew Harrison fed Marcus Lee for an emphatic dunk on the ensuing possession, and Cauley-Stein threw down two slams shortly afterward as part of a 10-2 stretch that gave the Wildcats an 80-62 cushion with four minutes left.

Game Notes

The game featured two of the three winningest programs in Division I history, with Kentucky's 2,150 victories the most all-time and Carolina third with 2,120 ... Freshman Trey Lyles made his first career start for Kentucky in place of Alex Poythress, who tore his ACL in practice on Thursday ... Booker returned after sitting out the Columbia game with a sore knee. Teammate Tyler Ulis also played after missing the Wildcats' last two outings due to illness and dished out a career-best eight assists... North Carolina shot 53.6 percent in the first half but went just 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) from the field in the second.