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Rupp Arena - Lexington, KY

No. 5 UK rebounds with 88-67 win over Eastern Kentucky

2607 days ago
Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alex Poythress had 21 points and 13 rebounds, Jamal Murray scored 16 and No. 5 Kentucky pulled away from Eastern Kentucky 88-67 on Wednesday night.

Seeking to rebound from last week's first loss at UCLA, the Wildcats (8-1) succeeded with improved and dominant inside play against the smaller Colonels. Kentucky scored its first 32 points in the paint and 58 overall, outrebounded EKU 50-25 and made timely baskets before pulling away late.

Poythress' third double-double this season led the way and was highlighted by a baseline drive and two-handed dunk for an 80-65 lead with 4:14 remaining. Marcus Lee added 11 points and eight rebounds, while Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe each added 10 for the Wildcats.

Javontae Hawkins scored 19 points for EKU (7-3), which entered as one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams (44 percent) but made 5 of 18 from behind the arc (28 percent).

For first-year Colonels coach Dan McHale, a former student manager under Kentucky coach Tubby Smith from 1998-2001, the game was a bittersweet homecoming.

His team entered with many offensive strengths including perimeter shooting, but those 3-point shots didn't fall in a 1-for-8 first half that offset an otherwise solid performance from elsewhere on the floor (13 of 23) that kept them within a couple of possessions at times.

Kentucky was much better in hitting 61 percent before the break and 35 of 64 overall (55 percent), a huge improvement from its 38-percent effort at UCLA. Then again, those impressive numbers were expected given the Wildcats' height advantage that Labissiere, Lee and Poythress provided and frequently exploited underneath.

Other times, Tyler Ulis (nine points, eight assists) lobbed passes leading to dunks that EKU couldn't stop or contain. Rebounding and a 28-point gap in the paint quashed any hoped wasn't even close as Kentucky dominated 23-10 at the half alone.

The Colonels came out of the break shooting and made a couple of long-range jump to get within 52-46 early in the second half, but Kentucky added a couple of baskets to maintain a safe cushion.

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Kentucky hosts Arizona State on Saturday.