85° Good Afternoon
85° Good Afternoon

No. 3 Kentucky eases by Long Beach State 86-73

LEXINGTON, Ky. - LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — John Wall scored 19 points and No. 3 Kentucky pulled away in the second half for an 86-73 victory over weary Long Beach State on Wednesday.

DeMarcus Cousins shook off early foul trouble to finish with 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Wildcats (13-0) continued their best start in more than 30 years.

For the first 30 minutes it looked like Kentucky had partied a little too hard after celebrating the program's 2,000th win on Monday night. The Wildcats led just 58-55 before using their size to outmuscle the 49ers down the stretch.

Stephan Gilling and Larry Anderson led the 49ers with 15 points each, but Long Beach State (6-6) looked tired in the final minutes barely 36 hours after dropping an overtime decision to Loyola Marymount and then flying crosscountry for a game that started at 10 a.m. PST.

The 49ers, however, didn't make it easy for the Wildcats to begin the march to 3,000.

Kentucky struggled with foul trouble in the first half, as Wall, Cousins and Patrick Patterson missed significant stretches after picking up two apiece. Even when the trio returned in the second, it took time for Kentucky to assume control. Long Beach even took the lead 46-44 on a putback by T.J. Robinson before the Wildcats started to wake up.

Eric Bledsoe, playing on a sore ankle, hit a 3-pointer to put Kentucky ahead, and Wall followed with a couple of free throws.

The 49ers rallied to tie it at 51 before Kentucky's defense started to wear on them.

Cousins, who received a technical foul less than 3 minutes into the game and was forced to sit out the rest of the first half, sparked a 12-4 surge with the kind of energetic play that has gotten him into trouble at times.

He scored five points during the burst and provided a defensive presence around the basket, forcing Long Beach to miss a handful of easy shots and go nearly 3 minutes without a field goal.

Long Beach went to a zone in hopes of saving its legs, but Wall exploited it for a 3-pointer that put Kentucky up 73-62, and Cousins followed with a layup. Darius Miller knocked down an open 3 to make it 78-64 and the Wildcats were finally in the clear.

Kentucky's start is the best since winning the first 14 games during the 1977-78 season. The Wildcats won the national title that year.

Patrick Patterson added 15 points and 11 rebounds while Bledsoe finished with 11 points and five assists. Robinson had 13 points and 15 rebounds for Long Beach State.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said Tuesday he was relieved the run to 2,000 wins was over, and he was happy to finally have a full complement of players after guard DeAndre Liggins finally worked his way out of trouble.

The Wildcats needed that depth in the first half with all the foul trouble, but it still wasn't pretty. Kentucky managed just 12 points over the final 8 minutes with their top three scorers watching from the sideline.

The game was Long Beach State's fourth against a ranked opponent. The previous three losses — to West Virginia, Clemson and Texas — were all by at least eight points.

Yet the 49ers hardly seemed intimidated playing their second game in barely 36 hours.

Long Beach State caught a redeye following an 85-80 overtime loss at Loyola Marymount on Monday night, arriving in Lexington around 9 a.m. EST Tuesday.

The 49ers didn't exactly look jet-lagged early. Gilling, who entered the game seventh in the nation in 3-pointers per game, knocked down three in the first half alone. The toughest may have been a contested shot from the top of the key that banked into the basket just before the shot clock expired as the teams headed to the half tied at 37.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports