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No. 1 Kentucky cruises past Eastern Kentucky 82-49

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns scored a career-high 19 points and top-ranked Kentucky rolled to an 82-49 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday night.

Two days after a hard-fought victory over No. 6 Texas, the Wildcats (9-0) had it significantly easier against the neighboring Colonels, whose campus is located about 20 miles south of Lexington. Despite making its first 3-point attempt with 2:57 remaining, Kentucky still shot 33 of 58 from the field (57 percent) and dominated almost every statistical category.

Willie Cauley-Stein added 11 points and Trey Lyles 10 points with 10 rebounds as Kentucky improved to 11-0 against EKU (4-3).

Denzel Richardson’s 19 points was one of the few bright spots for the Colonels, who shot just 18 of 69 (26 percent) from the field in losing their third straight. They made just 6 of 30 3-pointers after entering the game averaging nearly 11 per game from behind the arc.

Kentucky’s 10 initial misses from long range created a buzz among 23,268 at Rupp Arena, who began yelling “3!” on late-game possessions. After Aaron Harrison finally delivered, Towns and Derek Willis followed as Kentucky finished 3 of 13 from behind the arc.

Marcus Lee also had 10 points for the Wildcats.

Eastern Kentucky, the Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion and preseason third-place pick in the East, couldn’t match some of its top-10 rankings in suffering its biggest loss this season.

The Colonels entered averaging 13 steals per game but made just eight against Kentucky. Isaac McGlone made two of their three early thefts, but they got just one basket out of it.

That sums up a first half in which EKU found little success inside or out against Kentucky and trailed 41-14 at halftime.

Other than eight straight points by Richardson, including a spot-up 3-pointer that brought EKU within 15-10 and forced Kentucky coach John Calipari to call timeout, the Colonels were swamped by the taller, quicker Wildcats. Kentucky emerged from that stoppage and to outscore EKU 26-4 the rest of the half behind 55 percent shooting despite missing all six 3-point attempts.

EKU hit just 6 of 35 from the field (17 percent) and 2 of 17 from long range in the half.

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LOTS OF LOBS

Offsetting Kentucky’s perimeter struggles were a steady stream of lob feeds for easy dunks over the undersized Colonels. Even reserve Willis got in on the party, lofting one up to Lee for Kentucky’s last basket.

TIP-INS

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ 27-point halftime deficit alone was larger than their winning margin (26.2) in four victories. … EKU missed its final 11 shots of the first half.

Kentucky: Towns topped his previous career high of 12 with a dunk at the 14:45 mark in the second half. … Lee was called for a flagrant-1 foul on EKU’s Timmy Knipp, who made 1 of 2 free throws.

UP NEXT:

Eastern Kentucky: Visits IUPUI on Saturday.

Kentucky: Hosts Columbia on Wednesday.

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