LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky post players Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns each had 11 points and six rebounds, and the top-ranked Wildcats opened the second half with an 18-7 run to pull away for a 58-38 rout of Providence on Sunday.
Leading 26-22 at halftime, the Wildcats’ two platoons combined to limit the Friars to 2 of 12 shooting early in the second half.
Providence made just 4 of 24 second-half attempts (17 percent) and 11 of 39 overall (28 percent).
Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis and Dakari Johnson each added six points in a balanced effort by Kentucky (7-0), which shot 45 percent from the field.
Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris each had 10 points for the Friars, whose zone and athleticism built several small first-half leads and kept them close.
But Providence missed its final five first-half shots and was cold in the second. LaDontae Henton, the team’s leading scorer coming, was 1 of 8 from the field and finished with just three points.
Kentucky has passed the first in a series of tough non-conference tests in a month. That continues Friday against seventh-ranked Texas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Providence gave away a lot in length and depth to the Wildcats but gave no ground in the first half in forcing tweaks to the platoons.
The return of Kris Dunn (six points) from a one-game absence with ankle injuries bolstered the Friars’ defense, which caused Kentucky to work deeper into the shot clock and look harder for inside passing lanes.
Providence was just as effective early as 7-footer Desrosiers and Harris were the main threats with six points each. The Friars’ combination created a nervous buzz in Rupp Arena before Kentucky forged back ahead to lead at the break behind 10 points off 10 turnovers.
Kentucky forced 18 turnovers overall for 21 points and outrebounded Providence 33-29.
ANY MINUTE NOW
Both schools went through a second round of warmups after introductions when the tipoff was delayed five minutes to allow for the end of ESPN2’s broadcast between No. 24 Connecticut and Texas, which won 55-54 on Jonathan Holmes buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Providence: The Friars fell to 2-12 against the No. 1 team. Their last win over the top-ranked squad came against Pittsburgh on Feb. 24, 2009.
Kentucky: After entering the game having made 12 of his last 17 3-point attempts over three games, guard Devin Booker made 1 of 2 attempts for five points. … Kentucky made 12 steals.
Providence: Visits Boston College on Friday.
Kentucky: Hosts Texas on Friday in SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
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