11/18 21:44 CST No. 9 Kentucky gets another scare, holds off Utah Valley
No. 9 Kentucky gets another scare, holds off Utah Valley
By KEITH TAYLOR
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) --- John Calipari breathed a sigh of relief after his team
survived another scare.
Ashton Hagans scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 9 Kentucky fought through
another close game against what should have been a lesser opponent, beating
Utah Valley 82-74 on Monday night.
"I'm happy we won," Calipari said. "This season as long as it goes and being
here and knowing how teams play against us, and how they're charged up and then
the next game they don't play as well ... whew. I was trying to be as positive
as I could be until the end. I couldn't take it anymore."
The Wildcats (3-1) dropped out of the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press Top 25
after losing at home to Evansville last week, and they had to overcome a late
surge to hold off the Wolverines.
Kentucky led by 16 points early in the second half, but Utah Valley steadily
chipped away until T.J. Washington's 3-pointer got the Wolverines (3-2) within
one at 68-67 with 3:26 remaining. Nate Sestina responded with a three-point
play that helped the Wildcats pull away.
"We knew that coming in here Kentucky was going to be amped up and they were,"
Utah Valley coach Mark Madsen said. "Kentucky did a fantastic job of executing
their game plan and really making big plays down the stretch."
Kentucky was without second-leading scorer Immanuel Quickley, who sat out
because of a chest injury. Quickley has scored 16 points in each of the last
The Wildcats also have been without forward EJ Montgomery, who has missed the
past three games because of an ankle injury. Coupled with Quickley's injury,
Kentucky's roster has dwindled to seven scholarship players, leaving the
Wildcats short-handed in practice.
"We are who we are right now," Calipari said. "We are what the score says we
are. ... We got to get E.J. back, got to get Immanuel back and figure out what
Hagans also has battled a leg injury this season, but he has remained
"I was just staying focused," Hagans said. "I was just staying in the gym and
shooting and when I got the chance, I attacked the basket. If my teammates are
open, I got them some shots, got everybody involved and play my role."
Nick Richards had 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey added 14 points
Washington led the Wolverines with 22 points, followed by Trey Woodbury with 17
and Jamison Overton with 10.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are used to shooting free throws and averaged 29.7
attempts per game in their first three. Kentucky made 31 of 34 from the line
against the Wolverines, including 14 of 15 in the first half. The Wildcats held
a 46-27 edge in rebounding, including 34 on the defensive end.
Utah Valley: Just as Evansville did in its upset, the Wolverines spread the
floor and forced the Wildcats to play defense in the open court. The Wolverines
made 11 3-pointers to keep the game close.
"Those 3s that they made, gave them a chance to win," Calipari said. "And then
we had to come back and make free throws, which we did."
The Wildcats play two more games this week and could move up a spot or two with
three victories, although games like this will surely give voters pause. The
Wildcats don't play a ranked opponent again until they take on No. 10 Ohio
State at Las Vegas on Dec. 21.
Utah Valley hosts Lamar on Thursday.
Kentucky hosts Mount St. Mary's on Friday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and