LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — After throwing waves of stifling defense at No. 5 Kansas, top-ranked Kentucky showed that it could shoot the ball just as well against Boston University.
Aaron Harrison scored 19 points, Devin Booker added 15 along with seven assists, and the Wildcats shot nearly 59 percent from the field in the second half to pull away from the Terriers for an 89-65 victory Friday night.
Three days after holding the Jayhawks to 20 percent shooting in a 72-40 blowout, the Wildcats (4-0) followed up with their best offensive game to put away the determined Terriers (1-2). Kentucky shot 34 of 59 overall (58 percent) including 17 of 29 after halftime.
But things were tight for more than a half as BU guard Cedric Hankerson (24 points) kept his team close with five of its nine 3-pointers. It was the second time in three games that Kentucky had to work a bit harder to put things away, a letdown that coach John Calipari expected after the team’s big victory over the Jayhawks.
“I was hoping it wasn’t too bad,” Calipari said. “That was a high-energy game (against Kansas). Then you play a team that shoots the 3 well, shoots free throws well and only got beat by 24 points.”
Booker helped break it open with 12 second-half points, including three from behind the arc, while also feeding teammates with passes.
“I finally got to see a shot go in and that’s good to see,” Booker said. “Most of all, I wanted to get other people involved. I feel like we did that. … We had a slow start in the first half, but we pulled together.”
Kentucky ultimately took control by using its significant advantages in depth, size and shooters to dominate the paint (44-16) and bench scoring (39-12). The Wildcats also forced 22 turnovers leading to 28 points.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 12 points before fouling out late and Dakari Johnson added 11 for Kentucky, which played without junior forward Alex Poythress because of illness.
Cheddi Mosley added 13 points for BU, which shot 38 percent but was only outrebounded 30-25.
The Terriers’ first-half formula was hustle that kept them nearly even with Kentucky on the glass (16-15) and perimeter shooting led by Hankerson. He made four of BU’s six 3-pointers in the first half, good enough to stay within 40-35 at the break.
Kentucky earned that lead behind 57 percent shooting and shot even better in the second, surpassing 60 percent at one point. The Terriers couldn’t sustain their performance and had no answers down the stretch.
“I knew at some point they were going to be able to figure it out,” BU coach Joe Jones said of the Wildcats. “We were going to have to make an adjustment, but you only have so many tricks up your sleeve when you play a team this good.”
Kentucky had a slew of highlight-variety slams against Boston U., including several on lobs from Booker. The best might have been the Wildcats’ final basket, as 6-footer Hawkins skied high from the right side for Booker’s pass to throw down a dunk that brought down the house. … Dominique Hawkins had seven points in his first start.
Terriers forward Nathan Dieudonne played his first game back in Rupp Arena since earning MVP honors while leading Louisville Trinity High School to the 2012 Sweet 16 state title here. The state’s former Mr. Basketball was cheered during introductions and scored 10 points before fouling out.
Boston University: The Terriers fell to 0-4 vs. Kentucky. … BU doesn’t play at home until Nov. 30 against UMass-Lowell.
Kentucky: After entering the night shooting 44 percent from the field, the Wildcats surpassed 50 percent for the first time along with making a season-best eight 3-pointers. … Karl-Anthony Towns had five of Kentucky’s nine blocks. … The Wildcats forced at least 20 turnovers for the second time this season.
Boston University: Visits New Hampshire on Tuesday.
Kentucky: Hosts Montana State on Sunday.
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