Randolph Morris scored 20 points, including nine of Kentucky's final 11, and the 20th-ranked Wildcats held off the Blue Demons 87-81 on Monday night in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Two of the big plays were charges taken by Ramel Bradley and Bobby Perry in the final 1:11.
The Wildcats (3-0) will play the winner of the late game between No. 5 UCLA and Chaminade in the semifinals on Tuesday while the Blue Demons will meet the loser.
Kentucky was never able to put away the Blue Demons (1-3) in a game that saw both teams shoot better than 53 percent from the field.
Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler each had 17 points for DePaul, which was within 74-69 on a 3-pointer by Marcus Heard with 4:45 to play. Morris scored the last four points of a 6-0 run that had the Wildcats up 80-69 with 2:50 to play.
Morris' last field goal of the game, a baseline move with 2:10 to play, put Kentucky up 82-71, but DePaul scored six straight points to get to 82-77 with 1:22 to go.
Kentucky went 5-for-6 from the free throw line over the final 53 seconds and the Wildcats drew the two charges to finally seal the win.
Bradley had 16 points for Kentucky, which shot 57.1 percent (32-for-56).
Heard had 11 points for the Blue Demons, who finished 32-for-60 from the field (53.3 percent).
"I was really proud of our guys, they really hung in there and showed a lot of maturity, which is important for us," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "I always felt we were in a position to win, but the last couple of minutes we couldn't make a basket and let it get away from us."
Morris, who was 7-for-13 from the field and 6-for-9 from the free throw line, had nine rebounds as the teams finished even on the boards with 28 each.
Kentucky, which won this tournament in 1993, scored the first 10 points and was up 16-4 five minutes into the game. The Wildcats led 18-7 with 14:29 left after making eight of their first 11 shots from the field.
Draelon Burns of DePaul then scored the next seven points of the game -- he finished with nine. Kentucky was able to take one more double-digit lead in the first half -- 33-21 with 8:50 left on a 3 by Jodie Meeks -- but DePaul was within 43-38 at halftime.
"We've been in that situation plenty of times before," Mejia said. "We do a good job of keeping our heads in the game and staying focused. They gave us their best shot in the beginning of the game and we did a great job of coming back into the game."
The Blue Demons took the lead twice, the last time at 50-49 on a layup by Mejia with 14:59 to play.
Official Box Score
Number 20 Kentucky Holds Off DePaul
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