OXFORD, Miss. — No. 18 Kentucky played one of its most dominant games of the season through the first 30 minutes Tuesday, shooting well and crashing the boards against an overmatched Ole Miss.
The Wildcats eventually held off the pesky Rebels’ late comeback bid, earning an 84-70 win at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Kentucky forward Julius Randle posted game highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Aaron Harrison added 17 points for the Wildcats, guard James Young scored 16, and guard Andrew Harrison had 10.
Kentucky (20-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) built a second-half lead as large as 22 points, but Ole Miss wasn’t quite ready to give up in the final minutes. With 2:26 to play, guard Jarvis Summers grabbed an offensive rebound, sprinted the floor and finished a layup through contact.
He completed the three-point play, and Ole Miss was within seven points.
With less than two minutes to play, Ole Miss sliced its deficit to 76-70, but it did not score over the rest of the game.
Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson finished with 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting. The free-wheeling guard kept the Rebels (16-10, 7-6) in the game late, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Summers scored 22 points, and Ole Miss forward Anthony Perez added 21.
The Rebels suffered their first home loss in SEC play.
Kentucky bounced back from a 69-59 defeat to No. 2 Florida on Saturday, a game in which the Wildcats played well but simply couldn’t overcome the Gators’ dominant second-half offense. The Gators scored on their final 13 possessions.
On Tuesday, Kentucky got off to a slow start, missing three of its first 10 shots. Ole Miss led 11-10 — its largest advantage — but the Wildcats answered with 16 unanswered points as the shots started falling from all over the court. Kentucky made 10 of its next 11 shots, including five dunks and three 3-pointers.
If it weren’t for four straight makes from the Rebels near the end of that stretch, Kentucky’s lead would have been much bigger. Still, the Wildcats led 42-25 at halftime.
The Wildcats relied on their size advantage in an 80-64 win over Ole Miss in Lexington on Feb. 4, and they went right back to the paint Tuesday. Seven of Kentucky’s 16 made field goals in the first half were dunks, four on lob passes.
Randle had a double-double in the first half, posting 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats freshman now has 14 double-doubles this season.
Henderson scored six points on consecutive possessions early in the first half — a three-point play and a deep 3-pointer — but was held scoreless the rest of the half.
NOTES: The Wildcats improved to 102-13 in the all-time series against Ole Miss. … With Tuesday’s win, Kentucky’s John Calipari posted 20 victories for the 20th consecutive season as a coach at Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky. … The Rebels lost for the fourth time in five games. … Kentucky returns home to play LSU on Saturday. Ole Miss plays host to No. 2 Florida on Saturday.
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