Cleveland State Can't Hold Off #3 Kentucky in 68-61 loss.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland State captured our imagination deep into the game at Rupp Arena tonight, but the Vikings couldn't close down the stretch in Lexington.

Gary Water's Cleveland State team captured our imagination like a March tournament team for about 30 minutes of basketball tonight before falling to #3 Kentucky tonight 68-61 in Rupp Arena. Yes, Ashley Judd wins again...

The Vikings would put together a lead as high as 9 points in the first half before a back and forth affair with the Wildcats. A Dominque Hawkins foul would send Bryn Forbes to the line at the end of the half and he'd drain three straight free throws to give Cleveland State a 31-27 lead going into the half.

Cleveland State would continue to push the pedal down on the nation's super frosh team and grow their lead to 11 with 14:13 left thanks to a Trey Lewis lay up.

With just under 8 minutes to go in the game Kentucky would go on an 12-0 run to take a 56-54 lead over Gary Water's squad. The two teams would continue to battle to a 57-57 tie when an unfortunate sequence by Anton Grady would seem to doom the Vikings.

Grady dove on the floor to battle for a loose ball and secured a jump ball for the Vikings. Unfortunately, some extracurriculars broke out and Grady and UK freshman Andrew Harrison were given matching technical fouls.  Grady would then hook a UK defender in the post and pick up his fifth foul after a 6 point, 2 rebound night.

The Vikings would still fight hard after the Grady disqualification, but not even a 22 point night from Bryn Forbes could save them in losing 68-61 down the stretch. Kentucky freshman Julius Randle continued to impress and dominate on the glass with 15 points and 15 boards.

I didn't know what the Keightly Classic was coming into the night (and still don't), but this game was certainly a classic.

Cleveland State showed they won't be an easy out in the Horizon League this year. The Vikings move to 3-3 on the year and will next host Ball State on Saturday. That game will be the first of four games against MAC teams for Gary Waters this season.

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