LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)—Joe Crawford and Patrick Patterson scored 15 points apiece as Kentucky held off Mississippi 58-54 on Wednesday.
Ramel Bradley added 14 points and five rebounds for Kentucky (16-10, 10-3 Southeastern Conference), which moved to within one game of No. 1 Tennessee for first place in the SEC’s Eastern Division. The Wildcats play at the Volunteers on Sunday.
Chris Warren led Ole Miss with 25 points and Dwayne Curtis had 12 points and 15 rebounds, but the Rebels (18-9, 4-9) remained winless on the road in the SEC and continued their precipitous fall from the Top 25 last month. Ole Miss shot just 31 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 19 times.
Still, the Rebels had a chance to win it after whittling a 23-point deficit to two in the final seconds. Bradley missed a pair of free throws with the Wildcats up 56-54, and Warren raced up the floor. He missed a contested layup, but Curtis grabbed the rebound and threw it out to a wide-open Trevor Gaskins.
Gaskins’ 3-pointer, however, was long. Kentucky’s Perry Stevenson collected the rebound and handed it to Bradley, who sank two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining to seal it.
The last-second scare seemed improbable during a sloppy first half. Kentucky wasted little time taking control, racing to a 22-4 lead as the Wildcats easily disrupted one of the SEC’s most potent offenses.
Perplexed and harried by Kentucky’s halfcourt trap, the Rebels went through a seven-minute scoreless drought in which the simple act of getting off a shot proved troublesome.
Even when it was easy, it wasn’t easy. Ole Miss’ David Huertas seemed to have an easy layup after swiping the ball from Bradley but threw up a brick. Jermey Parnell grabbed the rebound but was so flustered he quickly shoveled the ball back to Huertas, who desperately dropped in a layup.
It didn’t get much prettier from there for Ole Miss, who needed a late first-half run to end the half with more points (14) than turnovers (12). By then the Wildcats were in control 31-14 and appeared on their way to a rare breather.