Kentucky outlasts UAB

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LEXINGTON, Ky. Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery each scored 16 points and combined for 17 rebounds, helping No. 9 Kentucky beat UAB 69-58 on Friday night.

The 6-foot-11 Richards made all seven shots from the field with several slams, including the game’s opening basket that got the Wildcats (6-1) going, along with a couple of jumpers. Starting for the first time since the opener against top-ranked Michigan State, the 6-10 sophomore Montgomery posted a career high, going 7 of 13 from the field and giving Kentucky a strong post presence in its first game without injured starter Nate Sestina (wrist).

The Wildcats only trailed early in the game and steadily extended the lead with help from their big men. Richards had nine rebounds and Montgomery had eight.

Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans each added nine points as Kentucky shot 47% and controlled the glass 39-26 for its fourth consecutive win since being upset by Evansville on Nov. 12 when ranked No. 1.

Tyreek Scott-Grayson and Jalen Benjamin each scored 19 points for the Blazers (4-2), who shot 41% as their two-game winning streak ended.

Kentucky won all four games of the Big Blue Nation Showcase, a round-robin that also featured Utah Valley, Mount St. Mary’s and Lamar.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky will stay in the Top 10 and perhaps move up a spot with Duke’s loss expected to shuffle the rankings.

BIG PICTURE

UAB: The Blazers’ bright spots were 8 of 16 shooting from long range while being edged just 30-28 in the paint. But they couldn’t contain Kentucky’s tall tandem and couldn’t top 41% shooting for the fourth consecutive game.

Kentucky: The Wildcats got a promising look at how Richards and Montgomery played together and in rotations with smaller lineups. They’ll need more help inside as the schedule gets tougher, but this was a good start.

UP NEXT

UAB faces another Power Five opponent on Tuesday at Texas before hosting No. 16 Memphis on Dec. 7.

Kentucky hosts Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 7.