SALT LAKE CITY — Timmy Allen hit a fadeaway jumper and Rylan Jones hit one of two free throws to seal Utah’s 69-66 upset victory over No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas at the Neon Hoops Showcase on Wednesday.
Kentucky (8-2) had two final opportunities in the waning seconds of the game to tie it up, but both attempts bounced off the rim as Utah (9-2) held on to the narrow victory as the clock expired. It was Utah’s first win over Kentucky in 43 years, to the day — the last being a 70-68 win in Rupp Arena on Dec. 18, 1976.
A pivotal turning point came with less than 30 seconds left in the game as Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey drove to the basket in an attempt to tie up the game after Allen made his jumper. A foul was originally called on Utah’s Riley Battin, which would have been his fifth and final foul. But on review, the officials overturned the call and called Maxey for the charge.
On the ensuing Utah possession, Kahlil Whitney fouled Jones, who would hit the game-saving free throw for the Utes. With the call, Whitney fouled out of the game and took away one of only two Kentucky players that had hit a 3-pointer for the Wildcats on Wednesday night.
Utah controlled the game for much of the night and was the more aggressive team on both ends of the floor, as Kentucky shot only 41% from the field. Utah built up as much as a 17-point lead in the second half, the largest deficit of the season for the Wildcats, and took control of the game.
The Wildcats, who suffered only their second loss of the season, fought back late in the second half and took advantage of a long Utah scoring drought and multiple turnovers to eventually tie up the game with just over one minute left to play. But Utah’s leading scorer, Allen, answered the call to stave off the Kentucky attack.
Allen had a game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and nine rebounds in the win. The sophomore also hit 9 of 12 free throws in a game where Utah only shot 65% from the charity stripe but 55% from the field. Jones (12 points), Both Gach (14 points) and Battin (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Utes.
Gach started out the game with the hot hand and set the tone for the Utes in the early minutes. The sophomore guard scored the team’s first 10 points, behind two 3-pointers, to outpace the Wildcats early. Gach, however, would finish the game with only 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 3-of-5 from deep.
Kentucky managed to keep the game in single digits in the first half with some quick transition buckets off of eight of Utah’s turnovers for 13 points. The Utes would give up an additional 7 points off the team’s remaining nine turnovers for the game.
Utah will travel to Los Angeles to take on No. 20 San Diego State in the Staples Center on Dec. 21 to close out nonconference play. The game tips off at 4:30 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.