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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Junior forward Elijah Pittman scored 20 points in his return to his home state, but Marshall fell to No. 23 Kentucky 82-54 Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
The announced attendance of 24,271 at the famed basketball building was the largest to ever see a Marshall game. Marshall fell to 7-6 on the season while the defending national champion Wildcats improved to 8-3.
Pittman, from Covington, Ky., was 7-of-17 from the field and reached the 20-point plateau for the fourth time in his first season with the Herd.
As a team, Marshall shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field while UK shot 42.0 percent including 50.0 percent in the second half when it outscored the Herd 49-30.
The game had five lead changes, all in the first 11 minutes of the contest. Marshall held a two-point lead after a Pittman dunk to make the score 20-18 with 11:43 to play in the first half. It would be the last points for the Herd in nearly six minutes. During that time, UK scored seven points to take a 25-20 lead and Marshall trailed ever since.
"I thought we did a really good job in the first half controlling tempo," said head coach Tom Herrion. "I thought we had them in a grind, which is what we need to do against a team like this to give ourselves a chance."
After trailing 33-24 at the half, Marshall came out in the second period and scored the first seven points to trim the UK lead to 33-31.
"We came out and got a couple of buckets early and cut it," Herrion said. "(Coach) John (Calipari) called a time out, like most coaches do, a great coach does."
UK slowly extended its lead and was up 41-34 (15:15) before going on a 21-3 run over the next 6:21 to extend its lead to 62-37 with 8:35 to play.
"I'm really disappointed in our second half," Herrion said. "We gave up too many easy baskets and layups. We need to defend and rebound and be a little tougher over 40 minutes against a team like Kentucky. Obviously a lousy way for us to go into the break, but we will come out of it and bounce back."
Senior Nigel Spikes put up a season-high 16 rebounds, but Marshall was outrebounded 48-43 and was outscored in the paint 52-20.
Senior forward Dennis Tinnon had 14 points and six rebounds. He was 2-for-2 from three-point range. Marshall struggled throughout the game from three-point range, shooting just 26.7 percent (4-for-15). UK was 3-of-17 for 17.6 percent.
The Wildcats were led by Ryan Harrow who was 10-of-17 from the field with 23 points. Archie Goodwin scored 10 of his 18 points from the free throw line and finished with 18 points.
Marshall will have some time off for winter break. The team next plays on Jan. 2 as it hosts Delaware State at 7 p.m.