Sunday's college basketball: Richmond beats Kentucky for first road win vs. top-10 team

Steve Helwagen
Associated Press

Lexington, Ky. – Richmond could hardly have played worse in the first half Sunday, yet it trailed No. 10 Kentucky by only a few points.

The Spiders pulled confidence from the small deficit and turned that into better execution after halftime, leading to the biggest win away from home in program history.

Richmond's Blake Francis (1) shoots near Kentucky's Cam'Ron Fletcher, left, and Olivier Sarr during the second half.

Blake Francis and Nathan Cayo powered Richmond to its first road victory over an Associated Press top 10 team, rallying in the second half to beat the Wildcats 76-64.

“You just get to play a team like Kentucky so rarely,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “So for us to have the opportunity to play them with a great team is great, and we seized that opportunity.

“It’s a tremendous win. Kentucky loses very rarely, they lose out of conference very rarely, so this is a great win.”

The Spiders (2-0) had been 0-25 against top 10 teams and trailed 36-30 just after halftime. Francis and Cayo each finished with 18 points, many coming during a series of small scoring runs that pushed Richmond ahead.

“We were only down four at halftime, we felt like we played horrible,” said fifth-year forward Grant Golden, who overcame four fouls to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds.

“We didn’t make any shots, but we knew as long as we kept running our offense, shots were going to start to fall eventually. But it was really on the defensive end for us. We put two really good halves of defense together and that’s what ended up winning it for us.”

A 9-0 burst gave the Spiders the lead, and a 7-0 stretch made it 58-46 with 7:43 remaining. In between, Francis and Tyler Burton hit 3-pointers and Cayo converted a three-point play.

Kentucky (1-1) got within eight before Richmond answered with Jacob Gilyard’s fast-break layup and Matt Grace’s 3-pointer for a 13-point edge with 4:40 left. Francis added a 3-pointer that made it 72-56 and sparked a celebration on the Spiders’ bench.

Golden made two free throws for Richmond with 10 seconds left before Burton grabbed Kentucky’s final miss to seal it.

Richmond’s veteran core – 10 upperclassmen, including four graduates – overcame Kentucky’s latest roster makeover featuring seven freshmen and 10 newcomers. The host Wildcats started four freshmen along with senior transfer Olivier Sarr, and growing pains showed after a crisp opening rout of Morehead State.

Kentucky committed 11 of its 21 turnovers in the second half, all of which Richmond converted into 22 points after going scoreless before halftime. The Wildcats also didn’t record an assist after posting five before the break, in addition to shooting 31%.

Of the six Wildcats that played at least 10 minutes, five were freshman.

Richmond shot 59% from the field after halftime. It was the Spiders’ first victory over a ranked team on the road since topping No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth 64-55 on Jan. 31, 2015. The Spiders improved to 14-22 against top 25 opponents.

B.J. Boston Jr. had 20 points and Sarr 17 for Kentucky, which outrebounded Richmond 54-31 but shot 36% and all missed all 10 tries from behind the arc.

“It’s a lesson for all of us,” Sarr said. “It’s just the second game of the year. We’ve got to pick our heads up, because we got a whole lot of games coming. … Just learn from our mistakes and move on.”

More Top 25

No. 2 Baylor 86, Washington 52: Jared Butler scored 20 points and No. 2 Baylor won again without coach Scott Drew.

Assistant coach Jerome Tang is directing the Bears with Drew in a 10-day isolation period after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Bears (2-0) stayed hot after scorching Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday behind 56.3% shooting, by hitting 34 of 67 (50.7%) from the floor. They shot 44.8% (13 for 29) from 3-point range.

Adam Flagler added 17 points, MaCio Teague had 15 points, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Mark Vital had eight points and 15 rebounds.

RaeQuan Battle led Washington with 10 points in its opener. Erik Stevenson and Jamal Bey each had eight.

After letting Louisiana-Lafayette score 82 points on 52% shooting Saturday, said he wasn’t “a happy camper” with the team’s defense. The message got through.

Washington, which returned just 35.0% of its scoring and 31.1% of its rebounding from a year ago, shot a paltry 19 of 52 (36.5%) from the floor while going just 5 for 24 (20.8%) from 3-point range.

The Bears avenged last season’s loss to Washington, also in their second game of the season. Baylor led for more than 36 minutes in the game, but squandered a 13-point second-half lead and lost 67-64 in the Armed Forces Classic in Anchorage.

(At) No. 11 Creighton 69, North Dakota State 58: Christian Bishop scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, Antwann Jones fueled the decisive run in the first half, and Creighton opened the season with a victory over North Dakota State.

Jones scored nine of his 11 points in succession as Creighton turned an early deficit into a lead, and Bishop had nine points in the first five minutes of the second half as the Bluejays went up by 23 points.

Creighton’s opener was delayed until Sunday because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the program. The Bluejays were originally scheduled to begin the season Wednesday at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The Bison (0-3), who shot 29% in their first two games, made 4 of its first 5 shots and led 10-4 before turning the ball over on five of six possessions.

No. 17 Houston 64, No. 14 Texas Tech 53: Marcus Sasser scored 17 points playing close to home, Quentin Grimes added 15 and No. 17 Houston never trailed in a victory over 14th-ranked Texas Tech in a neutral-site Texas meeting.

Sasser, whose career high of 26 points came at SMU in Dallas as a freshman last season, was 5 of 15 from the field as the Cougars (3-0) overcame 35% shooting at Dickies Arena. That’s where they are set to play in the American Athletic Conference tournament this season near downtown Fort Worth and not far from the Dallas suburb where Sasser grew up.

A 3-pointer from Grimes opened the scoring and put the Red Raiders behind for the first time this season. Texas Tech (2-1) went six minutes without scoring in the first half and trailed by 18 just 12 minutes into the game.

Mac McClung scored 16 points but missed all six of his 3-point tries for the Red Raiders, who shot 22% from long range. Freshman Micah Peavy had 12 points.

Sasser put the Cougars up 53-33 with a 3 before the Red Raiders went an 11-0 run midway through the second half, the first nine points coming on free throws before a dunk by Peavy.

Terrence Shannon Jr. cut Texas Tech’s deficit back to nine with a steal and dunk before McClung’s driving layup was blocked out of bounds by Brison Greshman, who was immediately called for a technical foul, apparently for taunting. McClung’s free throws got the Red Raiders within seven. 

Texas Tech had chances to get closer but couldn’t convert before Houston regained control and kept the lead around 10 the rest of the way.

(At) No. 18 Arizona State 100, Houston Baptist 77: Marcus Bagley scored 21 points, fellow freshman Josh Christopher added 17 and No. 18 Arizona State used a huge first-half run to rout Houston Baptist.

The Sun Devils (2-1) played without starting guard Alonzo Verge for unspecified reasons in their home opener, but it did little to slow them down against the overmatched Huskies (0-2).

Arizona State was much crisper offensively than in a loss to No. 3 Villanova last week, dishing out 21 assists on 36 field goals, and put the game out of reach early with a 33-3 first-half run.

The Sun Devils shot 55% and went 12-for27 from the 3-point arc against the Huskies, who had the nation’s worst scoring defense last season.

Ty Dalton led Houston Baptist with 19 points.

Big Ten

(At) No. 23 Ohio State 74, UMass-Lowell 64: Duane Washington Jr. scored 21 points and No. 23 Ohio State had to rally from a second-half deficit to defeat UMass-Lowell.

Washington took a pass from teammate C.J. Walker and hit a 3 from the left wing for a 70-63 lead with 1:07 left to all but clinch it for the Buckeyes (2-0).

Justice Sueing had 15 points and six rebounds for Ohio State. Walker added 13 points and five assists while E.J. Liddell had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Obadiah Noel, coming off a 35-point game against Illinois State on Saturday, led UMass-Lowell (1-2) with 15 points and seven rebounds. Allin Blunt and Bryce Daley each had 11 points.

(At) No. 24 Rutgers 70, Hofstra 56: Ron Harper Jr. had 15 points and nine rebounds, Jacob Young had 17 points and No. 24 Rutgers beat Hofstra.

Montez Mathis scored 14 points, and point guard Paul Mulcahy added nine rebounds and seven assists as the Scarlet Knights never trailed.

Rutgers (3-0) led 32-16 with 3:52 left in the first half before Hofstra (0-1) entered the break on a 5-0 run.

The Pride added two free throws by Isaac Kante after halftime before Rutgers went on a 10-0 run for a 45-32 lead – its largest of the game. The Scarlet Knights led by at least 10 the rest of the way.

Hofstra was led by Jalen Ray with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

(At) Maryland 79, Mount St. Mary's 61: Donta Scott and Jarius Hamilton combined to score 21 of their 30 points in the second half when Maryland pulled away for a win.

The Mount led for much of the first half until Eric Ayala scored the Terrapins’ last 10 points for a 10-2 run and a 41-32 lead at the break. The Mount regained the lead with just under nine minutes to go as Malik Jefferson capped a 14-4 run that made it 58-56.

Then Maryland, now 10-0 against Mount St. Mary’s, ran off 21 straight points. Scott scored seven with free throws, a dunk and a 3-pointer and Hamilton had a 3 and capped the run with a dunk with less than two minutes to go. The Mount missed its final 11 shots of the game and shot just 33% in the second half.

Scott led the Terps (3-0) with a career-high 17 points off the bench with Ayala adding 15 and Hamilton 13. Five players scored in double figures as Maryland shot 59.6%.

The Mount (1-2) was led by Jalen Gibbs with five 3-pointers and 19 points, and Jefferson with 18 on 8-of-9 shooting.