UTVALL
UK

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Big second half lifts No. 5 Kentucky past Utah Valley 73-63

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky's upside for its youthful roster after an awful first half was having another 20 minutes to make up for it.

The Wildcats actually took control in less than 5 minutes, surprisingly with a zone defense that especially paid off for Hamidou Diallo.

Diallo scored 13 second-half points, most of them during an 18-0 run, and No. 5 Kentucky shot 59 percent after halftime to rally past Utah Valley 73-63 on Friday night in the opener for both schools.

One of Kentucky coach John Calipari's youngest rosters since arriving in Lexington showed its inexperience by struggling on both ends and trailing 34-25 at halftime. The Wildcats emerged from the break more energetic to make the pivotal run over 3:22 with eight consecutive baskets, including back-to-back transition dunks by Diallo.

''We just had more confidence, more energy, and got all those first-half jitters out of the way,'' said the redshirt freshman guard, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds. ''We just came out fired up and ready to play.''

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 13 points, Kevin Knox 12 and Nick Richards 10 in the debuts for six of Kentucky's eight newcomers including Diallo.

More remarkable was Kentucky's use of the zone, which Calipari admittedly dislikes. Something had to be done with Utah Valley frequently beating the Wildcats inside, putting a crowd of 19,807 on edge and worried about a huge upset.

Kentucky's youngsters avoided that fate by executing the 2-3 zone well, creating turnovers leading to transition baskets and a few highlight dunks.

''We went zone and it kind of got us going,'' Calipari said. ''That's what we should use the zone for. We had too many guys that were just getting beat on the dribble, too many guys out of position. That's what happens when you have all freshmen and a couple of sophomores.''

Considering the benefits, Gilgeous-Alexander looks forward to seeing how the scheme works with more practice.

''It's definitely going to be a big help for us,'' he said. ''We have a lot of length, and it's going to be tougher for the other team's offense to score on us.''

As well as it worked for that stretch, Kentucky still had to work to put away the veteran Wolverines. But the Wildcats eventually built a 57-47 lead with 7:32 remaining and withstood several Utah Valley charges down the stretch to win the inaugural meeting between the schools.

Kenneth Ogbe had 12 points and Jake Toolson added 11 for the Wolverines, who committed 20 turnovers leading to 23 Kentucky points.

''We haven't spent a lot of time preparing (for the) zone yet,'' Utah Valley coach Mark Pope said. ''It did what it was intended to do. It made us a little bit more passive and our guys don't have a feel for it, so what happened wasn't transition defense. It was turnovers in transition defense that really killed us.''

BIG PICTURE

Utah Valley: The Wolverines' advantage in experience showed throughout a first half in which they held Kentucky to 22 percent shooting and outrebounded the Wildcats 25-16. Just as quickly, they couldn't keep up with their younger counterparts after the break and shot just 41 percent overall. The outcome spoiled the homecoming for Wolverines coach and Kentucky alumnus Pope, a member of the Wildcats' 1996 NCAA championship team under Rick Pitino.

Kentucky: Freshman nerves showed as the Wildcats struggled shooting the ball - missing 15 consecutive shots at one point - and were frequently outhustled inside. Turning up the tempo quickly shifted momentum and their statistics, as they finished 41 percent from the field and nearly even on the boards (38-37). Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel had seven points and 13 rebounds.

UP NEXT

Utah Valley's season-opening journey gets even tougher as it visits Tobacco Road on Saturday night to meet top-ranked Duke.

Kentucky hosts Vermont on Sunday, playing an NCAA Tournament team that won 29 games last season as a final tuneup before facing No. 4 Kansas in Chicago on Tuesday.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
+ 1 Quade Green made 2nd of 2 free throws 2.0
+ 1 Quade Green made 1st of 2 free throws 2.0
  Personal foul on Conner Toolson 2.0
  Lost ball turnover on Brandon Randolph, stolen by Kentucky 5.0
+ 1 Quade Green made 2nd of 2 free throws 15.0
+ 1 Quade Green made 1st of 2 free throws 15.0
  Personal foul on Conner Toolson 15.0
+ 2 Brandon Randolph made driving layup, assist by Jake Toolson 18.0
  Lost ball turnover on PJ Washington, stolen by Utah Valley 22.0
+ 2 Brandon Randolph made driving layup 25.0
  Defensive rebound by Conner Toolson 28.0
Team Stats
Points 63 73
Field Goals 23-56 (41.1%) 26-66 (39.4%)
3-Pointers 5-18 (27.8%) 5-15 (33.3%)
Free Throws 12-18 (66.7%) 16-23 (69.6%)
Total Rebounds 39 38
Offensive 11 15
Defensive 20 20
Team 8 3
Assists 12 17
Steals 8 11
Blocks 8 8
Turnovers 17 13
Fouls 20 18
Technicals 0 0
away team logo
25
K. Ogbe G
12 PTS, 7 REB
home team logo
3
H. Diallo G
18 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST
12T
away team logo Utah Valley 0-1 342963
home team logo5 Kentucky 1-0254873
Team Stats
away team logoUtah Valley 0-1 81.3 PPG 45.3 RPG 16.5 APG
home team logo5 Kentucky 1-0 81.3 PPG 41.3 RPG 16.6 APG
Key Players
25
K. Ogbe G 13.4 PPG 3.3 RPG 0.9 APG 48.9 FG%
3
H. Diallo G 15.2 PPG 4.7 RPG 2.3 APG 46.7 FG%
Top Scorers
25
K. Ogbe G 12 PTS 7 REB 0 AST
3
H. Diallo G 18 PTS 5 REB 3 AST
41.1 FG% 39.4
27.8 3PT FG% 33.3
66.7 FT% 69.6
Utah Valley
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
K. Ogbe 35 12 7 0 0 1 3 2 4/10 1/4 3/5 2 5
J. Toolson 22 11 3 2 2 0 2 3 3/9 1/1 4/4 1 2
B. Randolph 35 10 2 7 2 0 4 2 4/7 1/2 1/2 1 1
C. Toolson 34 10 2 1 1 0 2 4 3/11 2/9 2/2 0 2
A. Manyang 23 6 7 1 0 5 2 3 3/4 0/0 0/3 3 4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
K. Ogbe 35 12 7 0 0 1 3 2 4/10 1/4 3/5 2 5
J. Toolson 22 11 3 2 2 0 2 3 3/9 1/1 4/4 1 2
B. Randolph 35 10 2 7 2 0 4 2 4/7 1/2 1/2 1 1
C. Toolson 34 10 2 1 1 0 2 4 3/11 2/9 2/2 0 2
A. Manyang 23 6 7 1 0 5 2 3 3/4 0/0 0/3 3 4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
I. Neilson 25 10 8 0 2 2 1 2 5/10 0/1 0/0 3 5
B. Nakwaasah 20 4 2 1 1 0 2 4 1/5 0/1 2/2 1 1
C. Calvert 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0
J. Tahvanainen 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0
Z. Nelson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
H. Schenck - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. DeBerry - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Harward - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Nyman - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 63 31 12 8 8 17 20 23/56 5/18 12/18 11 20
Kentucky
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
H. Diallo 25 18 5 3 0 0 1 2 8/16 2/4 0/0 2 3
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 35 13 3 4 4 0 3 0 5/9 1/2 2/2 0 3
K. Knox 37 12 6 4 4 1 2 3 3/13 1/4 5/6 2 4
N. Richards 24 10 3 0 1 3 2 3 4/7 0/0 2/3 2 1
P. Washington 19 5 3 2 0 0 4 2 1/1 0/0 3/6 1 2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
H. Diallo 25 18 5 3 0 0 1 2 8/16 2/4 0/0 2 3
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 35 13 3 4 4 0 3 0 5/9 1/2 2/2 0 3
K. Knox 37 12 6 4 4 1 2 3 3/13 1/4 5/6 2 4
N. Richards 24 10 3 0 1 3 2 3 4/7 0/0 2/3 2 1
P. Washington 19 5 3 2 0 0 4 2 1/1 0/0 3/6 1 2
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
W. Gabriel 23 7 13 3 1 3 0 3 3/13 1/4 0/0 6 7
S. Killeya-Jones 15 4 2 0 1 1 1 4 2/3 0/0 0/2 2 0
Q. Green 21 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0/4 0/1 4/4 0 0
J. David - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Pulliam - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Wynyard - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Calipari - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Baker - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 199 73 35 17 11 8 13 18 26/66 5/15 16/23 15 20