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Off the cuff: Does anyone really want to play Kentucky this time of year? Well, evidently UNC-Wilmington does. But Carolina fans are likely tired of the regular season matchups with seem to be scheduled each year.

A classic game like that really should be reserved for tournament time.

It's frustrating to lose to a less experienced team like Kentucky has this year. And it was Carolina making careless mistakes. Yes, there were a season-high 17 turnovers but the last one was particularly frustrating.

Carolina had the entire timeout to come up with a last second play and that's what happened? Cormac Ryan was streaking down the sideline, looking straight ahead, getting into position when Elliott Cadeau planted the ball on side for no apparent reason.

Coach Davis would not give details on the play or whose fault it was but I can't help but think Cadeau was rushing and was supposed to hit RJ Davis in that position, who wasn't there yet.

Regardless, it's just inexcusable coming out of a timeout. Who knows if Carolina would have hit a three to send it to overtime but if they hit it, I think the more experienced Heels would have won in overtime.

Kentucky has a lot of talent but Carolina is a better team and should have won this game. The Wildcats will be an even harder team to beat at the end of the year. Of course so will UNC-Wilmington.

Kentucky 87, Carolina 83
Classic game ends with a UNC miscue

(Photo by UNC Sports Information)

A well-played second half between a pair of blue bloods ended with a whimper as North Carolina committed an unforced turnover in the closing seconds of Kentucky's 87-83 win in the CBS tournament in Atlanta. (12/16)

The No. 9 Tar Heels were frustrated much of the evening as the No. 14 Wildcats were in control most of the way, leading by as many as 11 points in the first half and 12 in the second half.

With the Heels down 55-43 in the second half, UNC's RJ Davis went on an offensive barrage, scoring 18 of his team-high 27 points.

Carolina came all the way back to take a 72-71 lead on a pair of free throws by Armando Bacot with 5:15 to go. It was the first and, what turned out to be, the Heels only lead of the game. Kentucky, behind freshmen Aaron Bradshaw and Rob Dillingham, scored six straight to wrestle back control.

Davis drilled a three from the right wing to bring the Heels within a point at 81-80 with 1:55 to go but once again points from Bradshaw and Dillingham kept Carolina at bay.

Still with 11.9 seconds left, down 86-83, the Tar Heels called timeout and had an opportunity to tie the game and force overtime. But freshman Elliott Cadeau threw the ball to an unaware Cormac Ryan. The ball bounced off his side and went into the backcourt for a turnover as Davis tried to save it.

Just like that, the high-intensity game was over. "Like I told the team, I'm not a perfect person. Mistakes happen," UNC coach Hubert Davis said. "If we had rebounded better, we wouldn't have been in that position."

Kentucky outrebounded Carolina by 10 including 18 offensive rebounds. In addition, a season-high 17 UNC turnovers led to 19 Wildcat points.

While Davis kept the Heels in it during the second half, it was Ryan who broke out of a slump to keep the Heels in it during the first half as he scored 12 of his season-high 20 points.

Dillingham led four Wildcats in double figures with 17 points as Kentucky improves to 8-2.

The Tar Heels, now 7-3, were playing their first game in 11 days. They'll take on Oklahoma in Charlotte Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Box score

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