Keldon Johnson led all scorers with 24 points. Tyler Herro chipped in 17 points and Reid Travis had 16.
The Utes outworked the Wildcats early taking a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes. Tyler Herro amped up his defense with a steal for a breakaway layup and a deflection that led to a Utah turnover. A shot clock violation sent the ball back to the Cats and a jumper by Immanuel Quickley knotted the game at 12.
With the score tied at 14, Keldon Johnson hit his second triple of the game to give UK a 17-14 lead. Johnson, after a bucket by Herro, hit back-to-back threes for a 25-19 lead. After another shot clock violation gave the ball back to UK, Johnson hit yet another triple to give the Cats a 9-point lead. A breakaway dunk by Ashton Hagans capped off an 8-0 Wildcats’ run.
At the buzzer, Herro finally knocked down a three-pointer after missing his first two and the Wildcats led 41-27 at halftime. UK forced 10 Utah turnovers in the first half while only committing 3 themselves. Oddly enough, however, the Cats were outrebounded by the Utes 18-13.
Tyler Herro hit a couple baskets early in the second half, but Both Gach had an active start to the second half to keep the game close. Kentucky led the game 56-47 at the under-12 minute timeout.
Johnson drilled another triple midway through the second half to give UK a 64-47 lead. A putback by PJ Washington gave the sophomore an and-1 opportunity. PJ converted the free throw to give UK a 20-point lead.
Herro exited the game with about 2 minutes left, which allowed Jemarl Baker to get some time on the floor. Baker responded by knocking down both of his two attempts from downtown. The Cats dribbled out the final seconds to seal the victory.
Several Wildcats played well in UK’s victory. Ashton Hagans held Utah’s top scorer in check throughout the game. Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley both had solid offensive performances. But the MVP goes to Keldon Johnson who finished with 24 points.
Johnson knocked down his first four shots from the floor. All four just happened to be three-point jumpers. We all know that Johnson can get to the rim; he’s proven that time and time again this season. However, it was a breath of fresh air to see Johnson light it up from downtown.
Johnson can initiate the offense and play off the ball. If he’s continually able to knock down the outside shot it will open up the interior for PJ Washington and Reid Travis. Seeing Johnson and Herro hit open jumpers should allow Big Blue Nation to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the sky is not falling in Lexington.