Kentucky Makes Point Against Panthers
After leading by just four at the break, Kentucky methodically pulled away from High Point for a 75-55 victory on Tuesday night in front of 19,980 at Rupp Arena.
The win was the 11th straight for the Wildcats at Rupp Arena as they improved to 5-1 on the year. The Panthers lost for the first time since their season opener and fell to 3-2.
Without putting together any spectacular runs, UK built a 26-point second-half lead, 70-44, with four minutes remaining. At no point did Kentucky score more than six straight points during the stretch despite burning the nets for a 55.2 percent second-half clip.
The Wildcat defense was stifling in the final frame, not allowing the Panthers to score consecutive baskets for the first 17 minutes and holding them to just 28.1 percent shooting.
High Point, which had shot 37 percent from three-point range entering the game, finished the contest just 1-19 from behind the arc. The Panthers ended the game at just 35.5 percent from the field, making them the 29th straight victim – and 71st out of 72 – to be held below 50 percent shooting. Kentucky has held all six opponents this year to below 42 percent.
Arizona Reid was the only offensive threat in the second half for High Point, scoring 17 of the team’s 25 points. He finished with career-highs of 29 points and 16 rebounds. The double-double was Reid’s third of the year.
Reid’s scoring partner, Akeem Scott tallied 10 first-half points, but was held to a two points in the second frame on 0-for-7 shooting.
Rajon Rondo continued to stuff the stat sheet, posting his third double-double of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds, including eight in the second half. For good measure, he added six assists and a pair of steals and now has a steal in all 40 games of his UK career.
Off the bench, Ramel Bradley matched Rondo for the team scoring lead with a career-high tying 14 points. Patrick Sparks added 13, including two three pointers to extend his streak of games with a long ball to nine.
Bradley’s effort led the Wildcats to a 34-6 bench points advantage, a stat UK has won every time out.
Kentucky also won the rebounding battle, 43-35, for the fourth straight game and the fifth time in six games this season.
Sparks buried his two three pointers early in the first half and the second one gave the Wildcats a 17-11 advantage at the 11:22 mark.
Reid and Scott then took over, combining for 13 points in the next four minutes to give High Point its largest lead, 24-21, with 7:29 remaining in the first half. Reed had a double-double in the opening frame with 12 points and 10 boards while Scott added 10 points.
After Kentucky fought back to tie the game, Rondo scored three straight times down the floor – two of which were set up by Brandon Stockton steals. The spurt helped the Wildcats to their largest lead of the first half at 34-26.
Issa Konare and Justin Dunn were the only other Panthers to score in the first half with six and two points, respectively.
After neither team scored in the final three minutes of the half, UK took a 34-30 lead into the locker room. The first 20 minutes featured seven ties and a pair of lead changes.
High Point scored the first point of the second half to cut the lead to three, but got no closer as Kentucky scored nine of the next 11 for its first double-figure lead of the game, 43-33. The Panthers closed the game with an 11-5 run to keep the final margin at 20 points.
The Wildcats improved to 3-0 all-time against High Point, the alma mater of UK head coach Tubby Smith.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday when it hosts defending national champion North Carolina at Noon. The game, to be nationally televised by CBS, features the top two winningest programs in NCAA history.