LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)—Chuck Hayes made sure Kentucky never felt threatened against Georgia State.
Hayes scored 12 of Kentucky’s first 15 points, including six in a 12-2 run that erased Georgia State’s brief lead, and helped lead the No. 8 Wildcats to a 77-59 victory Friday night.
Hayes finished with 16 points, Kelenna Azubuike had 16 points and nine rebounds, and freshman center Randolph Morris added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, who recorded their third lopsided win in as many games this season.
With Kentucky trailing 8-6 early, Hayes led the Wildcats on a scoring spurt that put them ahead 18-10—and well on their way to another victory.
“I don’t know what happened to me,” Hayes said. “I was in the right spot at the right time.”
Kentucky, which enjoyed a considerable size advantage over the Panthers, emphasized taking the ball to the basket—the Wildcats finished with nine dunks and went 19-of-24 from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-2) didn’t attempt a free throw in the first half and took only four in the game, making one.
“We got the ball inside. We needed to do that,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
Hayes went 6-of-8 from the field in the first half, while the rest of the Wildcats went a combined 6-of-20.
“They get you to play unorganized pickup ball,” Georgia State coach Michael Perry said. “I thought (Hayes) was personally responsible for that. He was very creative and crafty. We wanted to make his shots perimeter shots. We needed to get more bodies on him. He creates a lot of havoc.”
The Wildcats opened the second half with a 24-3 run over the first six minutes, capped by a follow shot from Hayes, to extend their lead to 36 points. Georgia State, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, came no closer than 18 points after that.
Marcus Brown led the Panthers with 16 points—going 4-of-5 from 3-point range—while Kevin Thomas added 12 points. Georgia State was 12-of-29 on 3-point attempts, compared to 2-of-15 for Kentucky, but the Panthers finished only 37.7 percent from the field.
Nine of the Panthers’ 3-pointers came in the second half, after the game had already been decided.
Rajon Rondo scored 12 points for Kentucky, while Patrick Sparks added six points and seven assists. Kentucky outrebounded Georgia State 44-31.
Hayes narrowly missed what would’ve been his 16th career double-double. This season, he had 12 points and 13 rebounds against Coppin State and 10 points and 11 rebounds against Ball State.
Kentucky is promoting Hayes as an All-America candidate using the slogan “All He Does Is Win.” Kentucky is 68-12 with Hayes in the starting lineup, giving him the best current individual winning percentage (.850) in games started—among players with at least 60 starts—in NCAA Division I.
Hayes also had three steals and two assists against the Panthers.
“He’s the epitome of what a total player is all about,” Smith said. “You want him on the floor for everything he does.”