Kentucky didn’t have enough “grit” — coach John Calipari’s word — in its first loss of the season last Thursday.
Fast forward six days, and the No. 5-ranked Wildcats were plenty tough against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday night, outrebounding the Colonels by 25 in an 88-67 win.
The turning point: Up 10 points with 4:32 remaining, Kentucky got a clutch three from Jamal Murray. The freshman, who shot just 2-for-9 from 3-point range on the night, cooly drained the long-distance attempt late in the shot clock to make the lead 13, and the Wildcats poured it on after that.
MVP: Senior post Alex Poythress heeded Calipari’s call, pouring in 21 points (9-for-12 shooting) and grabbing 13 rebounds in the winning effort.
Memorable moment: With 5:24 remaining in the first half, three Wildcats clogged airspace and turned away a Jarelle Reischel dunk attempt. Tyler Ulis grabbed the rebound and tossed an alley-oop to Charles Matthews, who finished with authority to get the crowd on its feet.
Starting lineup: Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere
Off the bench: Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews
Cleaning up the glass: Lee (head) appeared healthy after missing much of the UCLA game last Thursday … All nine first-half players scored a bucket in the opening 20 minutes … The Wildcats needed more than 16 minutes to hit a shot outside of the paint.
What’s next: No. 5 Kentucky vs. Arizona State — Sat., 3:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)