Dec. 27, 2008
LEXINGTON, KY - In front of a frenzied sell-out crowd of 24,018 at Rupp Arena Saturday, Florida Atlantic senior Paul Graham III scored 31 points helping the Owls lead by as many as five in the second half before Kentucky held on for a 76-69 victory.
Kentucky (10-3) needed 27 points from 6-foot-9 sophomore Patrick Patterson and a late run to win for the 10th time in 11 games.
Florida Atlantic (4-9) was even with UK, 37-37 at halftime with 20 of Graham's career-high 31 coming in the first half. Freshman guard Shavar Richardson made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
A jumper by Graham with 15 minutes left gave the Owls their largest lead at 51-46. Then, Kentucky went on a 10-0 run to regain control.
Patterson had 27 points and 14 rebounds for the Wildcats. It was his eighth double-double of the season. Patterson scored 11 first-half points, doing most of his damage around the basket.
Graham was sensational in the first half, scoring off the dribble and from the perimeter. A spinning lay-up by Graham ended a mini 10-2 run by the Wildcats, who had taken a brief 29-25 lead.
A Graham 3-pointer from the wing tied it at 32 and he dropped in a free-throw line jumper with 25 seconds remaining before halftime to put FAU up 37-35.
"It's not a surprise," said Richardson about his teammate Paul Graham's career-night. "Paul is a great player. He came into the game and started off pretty well and we followed. He lifted us offensively and kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win."
The lead changed hands 16 times in the first half, but behind a pair of Richardson baskets and a rare trey by Carlos Monroe the Owls came out and established a lead throughout the first seven minutes of the second half.
A Perry Stevenson dunk gave UK its first lead of the second half, 52-51, with 13 minutes remaining. It was part of a slam-filled UK run which allowed the 'Cats to lead by as many as nine, 68-59, at the 5:54 mark.
A pair of Monroe free throws made it 68-66 with 2:34 left. Patterson answered on UK's next possession, making his 12th shot in 16 attempts and the Wildcats were able to hold on for the win.
FAU - having played 8 of 9 on the road - return to the FAU Arena for a game against 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifier South Alabama Thursday, January 1 at 2 p.m. ET.
"Going back home is always a good thing and always fun," said Graham looking ahead to the New Year's Day game with USA. "That's the best thing for any team, so returning home will be uplifting for us. Coming into this game and playing as hard as we did and losing in single digits, it actually gives us some momentum."