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(Compiled from AP and staff reports)
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Julius Randle scored a career-high 29 points and led a second-half rally that pushed No. 19 Kentucky past stubborn Belmont 93-80 on Saturday in Rupp Arena. The Wildcats trailed by 11 points in the first half.
A week after a season-worst performance in a loss at North Carolina, Randle, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward, made all eight shots from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. More importantly, he asserted himself late in the first half and throughout the second for the Wildcats (9-3), who found themselves in a battle against the team that upset the Tar Heels earlier this season.
"We fought like
heck," UK coach John Calipari said. "It's a hard team to play. They're going to shoot 30 3s. If they're making them, you lose. Against (North) Carolina they made 14. (North) Carolina lost. And they make 14 against us, we probably
lose, and we guarded it well enough and kind of got into their legs a little
After making seven of 18 threes in the first half, Belmont made only four of 12 in the second half.
Kentucky trailed until the 16:21 mark of the second half and constantly had to fight off challenges from the Bruins (8-5). Aaron Harrison added 23 points for the Wildcats while 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein had 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
The Wildcats finished 32 of 58 from the field (55 percent), out rebounded the Bruins 42-25 and made 26 of 36 free throws.
Calipari was particularly pleased with the performance of two reserves -- guards Jarrod Polson and Dominique Hawkins, who contributed five points, four assists but only one turnovers in 43 combined minutes.
Said Calipari, "I was really proud of
Jarrod (Polson), and you say, ‘What did Jarrod add to the game?' All you Basketball Bennies, I love asking you
questions because you look at each other and you really don't know. What did he add to the game? Energy. Energy. Nothing else. So now you
understand what energy does for our team, and if you're sitting there and
you're not one of the guys playing, you're saying ‘Man, I've got to play with
"What does Dominique (Hawkins)
add ‑ again, all you Basketball Bennies ‑ add to the game? Energy and toughness. I put him in for James
(Young) and he dives on the floor and gets that ball that basically ends the
Kentucky's next game is Dec. 28 when Louisville visits Rupp Arena.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.