LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Devin Booker scored a career-best 18 points, Aaron Harrison added 14 and No. 1 Kentucky held Montana State scoreless for several stretches Sunday night to race to an 86-28 victory.
A game in which the Wildcats (5-0) finished just 29 of 67 from the field (43 percent) was offset by a defensive effort that forced the overmatched Bobcats (0-4) into 21 turnovers and held them to 20 percent shooting. Opportunities were hard all night for Montana State, which went scoreless for nearly five minutes in the first half and scored its first second-half points with 9:36 remaining to make it 65-13.
Joey Frenchwood’s seven points led the Bobcats.
Booker’s second straight double-digit game helped Kentucky regroup from an 0 for 10 shooting start as the 6-foot-6 freshman guard scored 12 first-half points including a pair of 3-pointers. He had 15 in Friday night’s win over Boston University.
Dakari Johnson had 13 points and eight rebounds for Kentucky, which dominated the boards 53-35 and blocked a season-high 12 shots. It was also the second time in three games the Wildcats held an opponent to 20 percent shooting.
The Bobcats were rested after Friday’s scheduled game at Buffalo was postponed following more than five feet of lake-effect snow that fell in the city. Despite its record including a 35-point, season-opening loss at UCLA, Montana State has also played well in close losses at Grand Canyon and Cal State-Northridge.
Things were close through 4 1/2 minutes as both Kentucky platoons combined for the cold start, including six misses from beyond the arc. Montana State’s zone defense deserves credit for forcing the Wildcats into more perimeter shots than they wanted despite getting good looks.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they couldn’t take advantage on the other end when they actually made it past midcourt. They made one of their first two attempts for a 2-1 lead thanks to Kentucky’s misfires, but otherwise struggled to get the ball up court to create shots against the longer Wildcats.
The first-half results weren’t pretty as Montana State trailed 39-11 behind 5-of-31 shooting (16 percent) and 14 turnovers along with having eight shots blocked. The Bobcats’ first second-half basket drew mild applause from 22,384.
Montana State: The Bobcats fell to 1-3 all-time against Southeastern Conference teams. … They went scoreless for nearly five minutes in the first half and didn’t reach double digits until the 2:48 mark.
Kentucky: The Wildcats made just 7 of 26 from 3-point range after entering the contest having made 20 of 59 3-pointers (34 percent) in their previous three outings. … Dominique Hawkins made his second consecutive start with Alex Poythress still sidelined by an illness.
Montana State: Hosts UT-Arlington on Friday.
Kentucky: Hosts UT-Arlington on Tuesday.
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