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

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

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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.