LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Kentucky controlled Indiana inside Saturday to maintain its recent dominance against the Hoosiers.
The Wildcats’ inside trio of Chuck Hayes, Randolph Morris and Shagari Alleyne combined for 35 points on 14-of-20 shooting as No. 10 Kentucky beat Indiana 73-58.
Patrick Sparks added 16 points and six assists for Kentucky (6-1), which has beaten Indiana in 12 of the last 14 meetings—including five straight— between the traditional powers, which play annually in either Indianapolis or Freedom Hall.
“I thought we played with a lot more poise and patience today than we have in the past,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. “We played a lot smarter.”
The Hoosiers (2-4) have lost four straight games, the third time in as many seasons they’ve had a losing streak of at least four games. The current streak has come against heavyweights—North Carolina, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Kentucky.
“Kentucky is a good basketball team and they wore us down,” Indiana coach Mike Davis said. “We played them better than we have in a while. Their inside play, they were just too strong for us.”
Indiana entered the game shooting 34.8 percent for the season and wasn’t much better against the Wildcats, shooting 38 percent. The Hoosiers shot well from 3-point range—10-of-23—but went 9-of-27 otherwise.
Junior guard Bracey Wright, the Hoosiers’ leading scorer, kept them in the game with six 3-pointers and 31 points, but no other Indiana player scored more than eight points.
“No way I could afford to take him out of the game,” Davis said of Wright. “He expected to play a lot of minutes and he played well. No matter what we do, the ball is going to end up back in his hands anyway.”
Indiana trailed by nine points at halftime. The Hoosiers’ first four baskets of the second half were 3-pointers—three of them by Wright—as Indiana pulled within 42-37 with 11:40 left.
Sparked by Kelenna Azubuike, Kentucky scored the next 11 points. Azubuike hit a 3-pointer to start the run, then capped it with a driving layup, a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass and an assist to Rajon Rondo, whose dunk put the Wildcats ahead 53-37 with 9:16 left.
Indiana came no closer than 13 points after that.
Kentucky continually took the ball inside, and it showed—the Wildcats shot 49 percent from the field and outscored the Hoosiers 38-10 in the paint.
Hayes, a senior forward who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, said the Hoosiers “were pretty limited inside. They didn’t have as much bulk and beef in the paint. We had an advantage down there and Coach wanted us to expose it.”
Morris, a freshman center, scored 11 points, and the 7-foot-3 Alleyne had 10 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
Alleyne said Smith modified the Wildcats’ offense to keep he, Morris and Hayes closer to the basket.
Smith “just kept us low, so when the shots go up, we’re right back there to rebound it,” Alleyne said.
Indiana hit five of its first seven shots—three of them 3-pointers—to jump to a 13-4 lead. But the Hoosiers then reverted to their shooting woes, going without a basket for almost eight minutes. After their initial spurt, the Hoosiers went 3-of-17 from the field the rest of the first half.
Sparks pulled the Wildcats even at 19-19 with two free throws 5:51 before halftime. That started a 16-5 Kentucky run to close the half, during which Sparks had 10 points and an assist. Kentucky led 33-24 at halftime.