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Wildcats Squeak by Vermont, 73-69

Photo by Keyli Chisesi (Go Big Blue Country)

 

Vermont did everything to win the game, as they shot 45% from the floor, knocked down 10 three-pointers, and only committed seven turnovers. Yet, the Wildcats found a way to pull out another hard fought 73-69 victory to move to 2-0 on the season.

 

Kentucky led for 37:03 of game time but Vermont continued to battle back. The Wildcats built a 36-24 halftime advantage behind 13 first-half points from freshman Hamidou Diallo, who finished with 16 points and three assists.

 

The Wildcats had their biggest lead early in the second half, a 40-26 advantage. From that point, Vermont continued to battle back and eventually cut the UK lead to 69-66 with 3:13 to play in the game. That is when Kevin Knox stepped up to knock down a corner three to push the lead to 72-66.

 

Offensively, Knox didn’t have his best game, finishing with 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting. However, he had the courage to step up when he was needed most and he also added eight big rebounds.

 

Leading 72-66, Vermont answered with a three-pointer to pull within three points. They got another chance after an offensive rebound on a missed free throw but the shot to tie the game was off the mark.

 

Freshman PJ Washington led Kentucky with a double-double, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Washington had a good balance for the Wildcats, scoring 9 first-half points and 8 in the second half.

 

Joining Washington, Diallo, and Knox in double figures was freshman point guard Quade Green, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half. Green connected on 6-of-11 shots, adding four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes of play.

 

Sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones had a big game for Kentucky off the bench, adding 6 points, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line. As a team, Kentucky knocked down 18-of-23 free throws, good enough for 78%.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had four points, while Wenyen Gabriel and Nick Richards each had two points to round out the scoring for Kentucky. The Wildcats move to 2-0 on the season and now shift their attention to a top-five matchup vs. Kansas on Tuesday night in Chicago.

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