No. 9 Kentucky, playing short-handed for the fourth time in seven games, improved to 6-1 Friday night with a 69-58 victory over Alabama-Birmingham at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ken.
This time the Wildcats were without graduate transfer Nate Sestina, who suffered a fractured wrist on Tuesday. After surgery, he is expected to miss up to four weeks.
That leaves Kentucky with only two true big men — Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery.
Against UAB, Richards and Montgomery shared high-scoring honors with 16 points apiece. Richards had nine rebounds, Montgomery eight. Richards made all seven of his field goal attempts.
They were the only players who scored in double figures for Kentucky. Guard Ashton Hagans had nine points and 12 assists. Guard Immanuel Quickley came off the bench for nine points.
As a team, Kentucky made 47.3 percent of its shots and dominated the glass, 39 rebounds to just 26 for UAB. The Wildcats also had just 12 turnovers vs. 19 assists.
Kentucky actually built the lead it would maintain throughout early in the first half. Trailing 7-4, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run. Kentucky got a 3-pointer from Keion Brooks and baskets from Richards, Montgomery and Hagans.
UAB (4-2) was led by Jalen Benjamin and Tyreek Scott-Grayson, both with 19 points. The duo combined to make 15-of-23 field goals, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range.
Blazers leading scorer Tavin Lovan, a native of Franklin, Ken., scored just two points in his debut at Rupp Arena.
As a team, UAB shot 41.4 percent, but did make 8-of-16 from 3-point range and committed only 12 turnovers.
–Field Level Media