LEXINGTON, Ky- Despite not shooting particularly well through the first nine games this season, you knew Kentucky had the personnel to break out in a big way. The player that opened things up tonight was Keldon Johnson.
Johnson led the way with 24 points, including 6-7 from three-point range. Tyler Herro chipped in 17 points for Kentucky and Reid Travis was right behind him with 16 points in UK’s 88-61 win.
Johnson sunk three straight deep balls on consecutive possessions in the first half, turning an early 10-2 Utah lead into a Kentucky double-digit lead. Kentucky would cruise from there.
It was a sleepy start for Kentucky who was playing for the first time this season with nine scholarship players, following the departure of Quade Green. But the place woke up a little after Johnson had his clinic from behind the line, plus the introduction of Kentucky football stars Josh Allen and Benny Snell, among others.
Kentucky led by as many as 18 points in the second half, but Utah started hitting shots, making eight in a row at one points and chipping Kentucky’s lead back down to single digits.
But from there it was a team effort for Kentucky. The Wildcats as a whole shot 57% on the night, and defensively they swarmed the Utes ball handlers forcing 18 turnovers, compared to Kentucky’s six.
Also to note, Jemarl Baker saw the most action he’s received since joining the Wildcats program. Baker entered the game with under four minutes to go and sunk two straight three pointers to cap off Kentucky’s win.