Feb 4, 2014 10:51 PM
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Willie Cauley-Stein broke a slump with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 18 Kentucky shot 60 percent in the second half for an 80-64 victory over Mississippi on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats' 7-foot sophomore went 7 of 8 from the field to score more points than his previous six games combined (14) while reaching double digits in rebounds for the first time in nine games. Cauley-Stein had six blocks and altered other attempts to help limit the Rebels (15-7, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) to 36 percent shooting in the second half and 39 percent (25 of 65) overall.
Kentucky (17-5, 7-2) made 15 of 25 from the field in the second half to turn a 35-34 halftime lead into a rout and earn their second consecutive victory.
Aaron Harrison added 16 points while Julius Randle scored 11 of his 12 points after halftime as the Wildcats finished shooting 51 percent (26 of 51) from the field.
James Young and Alex Poythress had 10 points each for Kentucky, which outscored Mississippi 44-24 in the paint and 19-15 in second-chance points while its reserves topped the Rebels' 28-19.
Guards Marshall Henderson (16 points) and Jarvis Summers combined for 27 points on just 10-of-31 shooting in a matchup of second-place SEC teams. The Rebels get another shot at the Wildcats in two weeks in Oxford, Miss., where they hope to play better than in the final 20 minutes on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats came in seeking improvement in their transition defense and in the middle, where 7-foot freshman Dakari Johnson started his second straight game. He had five points, four blocks and two rebounds but was overshadowed by a revived Cauley-Stein.
More impressive was how Kentucky kept Henderson (19.2 points, 1.7 steals per game coming in) and Summers (17.8 points, 3.9 assists) in check. Containing Henderson was a group effort with Aaron Harrison, Jarrod Polson and others helping out in holding the senior guard to 6-of-18 shooting including 4 of 12 from 3-point range.
A Rupp Arena crowd of 22,168 that braved freezing rain did their part trying to rattle Henderson, who as usual wasn't fazed by the derision or an 0-for-2 start from the field by the 11:29 mark of the first half. When it's Henderson, the question was when he would warm up rather than if.
Four and a half minutes later, Henderson had eight points thanks to consecutive 3-pointers while the Rebels had a 28-23 lead that forced a Kentucky 30-second timeout with 6:55 left. While the Wildcats rallied for a 35-34 halftime lead, this game was even in many areas.
The Wildcats edged the Rebels 42 percent to 41 percent from the field and outrebounded them 22-17 with Aaron Harrison grabbing six along with scoring 12 points. But Mississippi forged slight edges in the paint (18-16) and transition (8-5) while its bench matched Kentucky with 12 points.
Randle's 1-point, 1-rebound first half explained some of those deficiencies, but the freshman began changing that in the second half by scoring 11 points including an impressive rebound and court-length drive for a dunk and a 50-41 lead that forced a Mississippi timeout with 14:59 remaining. Poythress' basket 2:10 later provided Kentucky's first double-digit lead of the game that eventually reached 19 with 3 minutes left.