LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Freshman Keldon Johnson scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers in the first half, and No. 19 Kentucky beat Utah 88-61 on Saturday.
Johnson made a career-high six shots from long range on seven attempts as Kentucky made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Tyler Herro scored 17 points, Reid Travis added 16 and Immanuel Quickley chipped in with 10 for the Wildcats (8-2), who lost their best 3-point shooter when Quade Green decided to transfer nine games into his sophomore season.
Coming off an 84-83 overtime loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden last weekend, the Wildcats trailed 10-2 five minutes into the game, but Kentucky outscored the Utes 28-9 to push the lead to 30-19. The Wildcats did not trail again.
Johnson highlighted the decisive run with four 3-pointers, including three straight, and finished with 15 points in the opening half.
Both Gach led the Utes (4-5) with 22 points, followed by Jayce Johnson with 11.
Utah: The Utes lost their eighth straight game to the Wildcats. Kentucky defeated Utah 78-69 in the 1998 NCAA title game in San Antonio. The Wildcats beat Utah six times in the 1990s, including four times in the NCAA Tournament. The Utes out-rebounded Kentucky 31-23, becoming the first team to top the Wildcats on the glass this season.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have picked up steam from behind the arc after starting the season slowly. Kentucky has made at least five 3-pointers in each of the past four games. The trend began when Kentucky connected on 10 3s in a 90-44 win over Monmouth on Nov. 28.
The Wildcats dropped 10 spots from No. 9 to 19th following the loss to Seton Hall, but they can begin climbing back toward the Top 10 if they can finish out the month with wins over North Carolina and in-state rival Louisville.
The 1992-93 Kentucky team that finished 30-4 and lost to eventual runner-up Michigan 81-78 in the 1993 Final Four was honored during halftime. Several members of the team were in attendance, including Jared Prickett, a freshman at the time who also played on the national championship squad three years later.
“It could have ended up a different story, but things happen for a reason,” Prickett said. “It was a great experience for me.”
Utah hosts Florida A&M on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats play No. 12 North Carolina in the Champions Classic on Saturday in Chicago.
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