The seven-game winning streak that Pepperdine was riding came to an abrupt and not at all unexpected end Saturday when the Waves were soundly beaten, 88-56, by Kentucky in the championship game of the Kentucky Invitational tournament.
Although forward Kenny Walker scored 21 points for the 13th-ranked Wildcats, it was Ed Davender's play that earned Kentucky the title for the 25th time in the tournament's 33-year history.
In addition to scoring 16 points, Davender played a strong defensive game, holding Pepperdine guard Dwayne Polee to only nine points.
"I just basically played Polee as hard as I could," Davender said. "He could be a first-round draft choice (in the NBA), and I tried to do the best I could against him and do the things I do best in practice every day."
The Waves, ranked 20th in the nation, kept up with the Wildcats in the early going as the lead changed 10 times. Pepperdine led, 22-21, with 6:36 left in the first half when Wave guard Jon Korfas hit an eight-foot bank shot.
But after making 10 of its first 13 shots, Pepperdine suddenly turned cold, making only 11 of its next 43 shots and finishing with a season-low 37.5% shooting statistic.
Following Korfas' shot, the Wildcats outscored the Waves, 15-5, and led at halftime, 36-27.
Kentucky's smothering man-to-man defense was more than Pepperdine could handle, and the Waves were outscored, 29-6, in the first 11:15 of the second half.
The Wildcats dominated the boards, too, outrebounding Pepperdine, 54-29.
"We played without emotion, sharpness or quickness," Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick said. "I saw in the locker room that we were dead. They (the Wildcats) played with a lot more emotion and aggression than we did. That was very disappointing.
"Kentucky did a super job defensively applying pressure, and they also hit the boards extremely well. Our kids must learn to play physical basketball when it is necessary. Our only bright spot was Grant Gondrezick. He did a good job for us off the bench."
Gondrezick scored 18 points and Eric White 12 for Pepperdine, which saw its record fall to 7-2 going into Monday night's game against Evansville in Indiana.