Kentucky routs Utah 88-61


Kentucky freshman guard Keldon Johnson celebrates after hitting a three-pointer during the game against Utah on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 88-61. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

The Kentucky Wildcats picked up where they left off after their loss to Seton Hall with Saturday’s 88-61 win over Utah.

Wildcat freshman Tyler Herro started things off for the Wildcats with an Ashton Hagans-assisted layup to put Kentucky on the board early in the first half. Utah responded with a 10-0 run to take a 10-2 lead over Kentucky, but UK’s Keldon Johnson cut the eight-point deficit to five after he drained a three-pointer. Johnson’s basket would go on to start a shooting trend for the freshman in the first half.

After a few more Kentucky baskets, Johnson sank his second three of the night to put the Cats ahead 17-14. Utah responded with a jumper followed by another Herro basket, then came Johnson’s third three of the half. On Kentucky’s next possession he made his fourth shot from beyond the arc to extend the Cats’ lead to 25-19, and made another immediately after for his fifth of the game as he totaled 15 points in the half.

A Hagans steal and dunk put Kentucky at the 30-point mark with 7:58 to go in the half. Kentucky would go on to lead Utah 41-27 at halftime, as Johnson led all players with 15 total points. Kentucky freshman EJ Montgomery led the Cats on the boards with four rebounds.

Kentucky’s lead wouldn’t drop below 10 points the rest of the game– the closest the Utes got to the Cats was at the 11:52 mark when a Timmy Allen dunk cut the lead to 10 points. 

Several shots would miss from both teams in the two minutes to follow, until a Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington layup brought UK’s lead up to 12. 

Another three from Johnson came with just over eight minutes to go, his sixth of the game. Johnson finished as Kentucky’s leading scorer with 24, going 6-of-7 from the three. 

With 2:22 left in the game, redshirt freshman guard Jemarl Baker substituted into the game, who was injured all of last season and returned to practice after the team’s Bahamas trip. Baker had played just one total minute this season prior to Saturday’s game against Utah, but came in and drained two straight threes for Kentucky in the last two minutes of the game. 

The win gives the Cats an 8-2 record as they head into their next game, which is against North Carolina in Chicago at the CBS Classic.