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Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein dunks against Mississippi in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein dunks against Mississippi in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Kentucky’s Julius Randle started his big night with a few dunks, then made a boatload of free throws and capped it off with a difficult finish in the lane to seal the victory.

The 6-foot-9 freshman is turning into the consistent force the Wildcats hoped he would be. That could make them tough to beat as March approaches.

Randle scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season as No. 18 Kentucky beat Mississippi 84-70 on Tuesday night.

“We know we can do this,” Randle said. “We can do this every game. It’s about chemistry and having fun out there and today it showed.”

Aaron Harrison added 17 points and four assists for the Wildcats.

Kentucky (20-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) dominated throughout most of the game, going on a 15-0 run midway through the first half to take a 25-11 lead that proved insurmountable.

Kentucky was active in the paint and had several alley-oop dunks, jumping over the Rebels’ overmatched defense. The Wildcats had seven dunks in the first half alone.

It was an emphatic victory just days after one of Kentucky’s most disappointing setbacks this season — a 69-59 loss to Florida on Saturday at Rupp Arena.

“In the last eight years or so, after a loss, our teams have bounced back to win by an average of 17 points,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I challenged them to see how they would respond and they responded.”

Ole Miss (16-10, 7-6) lost its third straight game and has almost completely fallen out of the picture for an at-large NCAA tournament berth. The Rebels had a bad shooting night and were steamrolled on the boards.

Jarvis Summers led Ole Miss with 22 points and Anthony Perez added 21.

Kentucky had already beaten Ole Miss once this season, 80-64 on Feb. 4 at Rupp Arena. The Rebels kept that game fairly close until the end, but the Wildcats made sure this one was in hand quickly.

Randle had a double-double before halftime, with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Wildcats built a 42-25 lead. Kentucky shot 58.6 percent from the field in the first half, finishing on several high-percentage looks inside and shooting 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

Kentucky had a big lead for most of the second half until a late Ole Miss rally. The Rebels cut it to 76-70 with 1:48 remaining after Perez banked in a 3-pointer, but on Kentucky’s next possession Randle drove the lane and made a short jumper in traffic to stop the surge.

“Today says a lot about us,” Harrison said. “We knew this was going to be a big game and we knew Ole Miss would take a lot of 3-pointers. We knew they’d make shots, but we won, we won by double digits, no big deal.”

The Rebels simply couldn’t contain Kentucky’s big men — especially Randle. He had an efficient night, going 6 of 7 from the field and 13 of 14 at the free throw line. It was his third straight double-double.

Randle had made less than 65 percent of his free throws the past five games, but didn’t have any problems on Tuesday.

“You’ve got to get bad thoughts out of your mind and concentrate,” he said. “We wanted to get to the free throw line because we were making them.”

Randle was dominant, but the rest of the Wildcats were good, too. James Young scored 16 points and Andrew Harrison added 10.

Marshall Henderson scored 18 for Ole Miss, but shot just 5 of 17 from the field, including 5 for 14 from 3-point range. The Rebels made only 38.7 percent from the floor (24 of 62).

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was particularly exasperated with his team’s poor inside shooting. The team’s three starting forwards — LaDarius White, Dwight Coleby and Aaron Jones — combined to score seven points on 3-of-12 shooting.

“We made the right read,” Kennedy said. “Then we have to make the play.”

Kentucky had a 39-23 advantage on the boards, shot 52.1 percent (25 of 48) from the field and 90 percent (27 of 30) on free throws.

No. 18 KENTUCKY 84, MISSISSIPPI 70

KENTUCKY (20-6): Young 6-12 2-2 16, Aa. Harrison 6-13 4-4 17, An. Harrison 2-6 4-4 10, Randle 6-7 13-14 25, Johnson 0-3 0-0 0, Polson 1-2 0-0 3, Cauley-Stein 2-3 4-6 8, Poythress 2-2 0-0 5. Totals 25-48 27-30 84.

MISSISSIPPI (16-10): White 1-4 0-0 2, Henderson 5-17 3-3 18, Coleby 1-3 1-2 3, Summers 9-17 3-3 22, Jones 1-5 0-0 3, Newby 0-1 0-0 0, Millinghaus 0-1 0-0 0, Cox 0-0 1-2 1, Saiz 0-1 0-0 0, Perez 7-12 5-5 21, Joesaar 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 13-15 70.

Halftime_Kentucky 42-25. 3-Point Goals_Kentucky 7-19 (An. Harrison 2-5, Young 2-7, Poythress 1-1, Polson 1-2, Aa. Harrison 1-4), Mississippi 9-27 (Henderson 5-14, Perez 2-3, Jones 1-1, Summers 1-6, Millinghaus 0-1, White 0-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Kentucky 39 (Randle 13), Mississippi 23 (Jones 6). Assists_Kentucky 16 (Young 5), Mississippi 11 (Summers 4). Total Fouls_Kentucky 16, Mississippi 20. Technicals_Aa. Harrison, White. A_8,476.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

11 Responses to Kentucky finishes with 19 straight made free throws to top Ole Miss 84-70

  • RJ says:

    Wow. They must have been listening to me. I didn’t mean to make them mad! :)

  • Larry Pup says:

    I will take it. Should have been by 20 plus, but it was a big win. Ole Miss rallied late, but the CATS punished them at the ft line. Way to go CATS!!!!

  • Mike says:

    Guys…..this is a great win, but we really are a sorry excuse for a Final 4 pretender. This team will just not allow us to enjoy a complete game, and they do not have the guys, will, or determination to put anybody away. We played a GREAT first half and best of the year from my standpoint. I am not sure what Cal is telling these guys at halftime but it still isn’t working. I believe we have lost at least 3 of last 4 games in 2nd half lately and this does not portend a team ready to contend for the big dance. We still have endless and mindless turnovers, can’t shoot midrange jumpers or feed the post and TG we were hitting some 3′s tonight because when we can’t we will be done. Poy and Stein only had 13 between them and should be hitting 10 ea. with consistency. The twins still shooting way under 50% collectively and committing too many turnovers. TG for Young’s shooting because he is an unbelievable poor passer and turnover machine. This should have been a 25 pt. win with our first half start and we let it slip away. Final score lot closer because of our shooting FT’s.

    • UKFMLY says:

      14 SHOULD HAVE BEEN 25 this sites numbers guy said 2. We win on the road, beat a team with no conference losses and you still complain! ! ! I really must have on Big Blue Glasses! !

      KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

      GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

  • Little Baron says:

    Always good to win, by any margin.
    But allowing a so-so Ole Miss to rally late is not a sign that UK learned much when FL stormed past UK scoring on 13 of their last 15 possessions.

    These guys have been playing more than 25 games, on the court at the same time (I am cautious not to use the word “together”) plus pre-season games and practice. There is no longer an excuse not to play 40 minutes and no longer an excuse not to play FOR THE TEAM.

    Is it pressure which makes UK miss FTs in other games? Have they been too tired in other games? Do they lack concentration? Do they not care? It is sure a mystery how this team can shoot FTs so poorly all year and then every now and then hit 80%+. It would sure be a welcome improvement to see excellent FT shooting the rest of the season.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    UK will continue to handle teams without dominant bigs. While it is troubling that they let a big lead get away, it is very good that they made their free throws to tie down the win. IMO we cannot get to high with wins nor to low with loses. The proof of this team will come in the NCAA tournament.

    • Larry Pup says:

      KJ…I don’t disagree with your statement about UK’s success against teams w/o dominant bigs. However, I think the proof will come in the five remaining games, and in the SEC Tourney. UK should worry about the Big Dance after the” hay is in the barn.” They can’t look past anybody right now. They have to finish strong. I look forward to the Florida rematch. That game will be interesting and will be a real tuneup for Tournament play.

      • Kokamo Joe says:

        Actually we don’t know what to expect. This last game is a good example. Finally, I thought, finally they are going to blow out a team that they should beat easily. The first half was gang busters. But then there was the 8 minuet drought and a blow out was not reduced to 6 points. Then came the free throws, that they usually miss and we pull back out to 14 points.

        You are correct, the final SEC games and tournament will be interesting. Calipari does not seem to think that winning or losing the tournament is important. I disagree. It means a lot to the important NCAA seeding. I personally believe that the selection committee would love to seed UK as high as possible. We travel and UK is a gold mine for NCAA television money. Do well the rest of the regular season and the possible of advancing increase.

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