Everyone knew there would be stretches of basketball like the one IU experienced Saturday at Rupp Arena.
But that didn't make the first half any easier for IU Coach Tom Crean to take.
Kentucky raced to a 20-point lead in the game's opening eight minutes, expanded that margin to as many as 26, and coasted to a 72-54 win in front of 23,767 unsympathetic fans at Rupp. Indiana (5-5) lost for the 12th time in its last 15 meetings with Kentucky (7-3), which now owns a 29-23 edge in the all-time series.
Kentucky's domination started from the opening tip and never didn't stop until the halftime buzzer sounded. The Wildcats' Kevin Galloway scored four seconds into the game, corralling Patrick Patterson's opening tip and driving on Kyle Taber for a lay-up. Indiana, meanwhile, didn't score its first basket until nearly 6 1/2 minutes later when Tom Pritchard scored on a putback basket with 13:35 remaining in the half.
By that time the Wildcats had already opened a 14-0 lead and brought the UK crowd to its feet with pair of thunderous dunks apiece by Patterson and Perry Stevenson. Indiana, meanwhile, had already turned it over seven times and missed six shots.
"We didn't deal well with the onslaught," Crean said of Indiana's start. "They were focused on having a great start – which they did – and it became a snowball."
Pritchard's basket did nothing to get Indiana untracked. The Hoosiers missed 20 of 26 first-half shots and finished the half with more turnovers (15) than points (13). Kentucky, meanwhile, made 11 of its first 13 shots and was up 36-13 at intermission and was well on its way to avenging last season's 70-51 loss in Bloomington.
Indiana did regain its composure in the second half and eventually cut the lead to 15, 41-26, with 12 minutes remaining. But the first half hole was too much to overcome, and the Hoosiers eventually suffered its fifth double-digit loss of the season.
Josh Harrellson led a balanced UK attack, finishing with 15 points in just 18 minutes. Harrellson was one of five Wildcats to score in double figures along with Jodie Meeks (13), Patterson (12), Stevenson (10) and Liggins (10). Stevenson made all five of his field goal attempts added a team-high nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
Stevenson's presence on the interior helped UK contain Pritchard. The Hoosiers' leading scorer entering the game at 14.1/game, Pritchard was just 2-of-8 from the floor and finished with four points, six rebounds and a team-high five turnovers. Indiana finished with 20 turnovers in the game, marking the sixth time in the last eight games IU has had at least 20 turnovers.
"The hardest thing is there's no way to mirror that length and athleticism (in practice)," Crean said.
While Pritchard was struggling to shoot over Stevenson and Patterson, IU's guards couldn't make up the difference. Devan Dumes scored a team-high 15 points, but all of those points came during the second half. Dumes was 0-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half and 1-of-8 from deep for the game, as the Hoosiers were just 4-of-20 for the game from 3-point range.
Three of those makes came from Matt Roth, who added nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, while Nick Williams chipped in with eight.
While the first half was a learning experience for the Hoosiers, there were positives to take from the game's final 20 minutes. Indiana turned it over only five times, outscored Kentucky 41-36, and forced the Wildcats into 12 of their 23 turnovers.
"We turned them over, which we felt we could," Crean said. "There was no way we were coming in here and feel we couldn't pressure their players. We have to play like our hair is on fire. (Kentucky) did that early. Kentucky deserves a ton of credit for the way they started and the lead they built."
Pritchard 2-8 0-0 4, Taber 2-4 0-0 4, Moore 2-5 1-3 5, Williams 4-9 0-0 8, Dumes 6-15 2-6 15, Roth 3-6 0-0 9, Jones 1-5 4-6 6, Story 1-5 1-2 3, Jobe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 8-17 54.
Galloway 1-1 2-4 4, Porter 0-2 0-0 0, Stevenson 5-5 0-0 10, Meeks 5-12 1-2 13, Patterson 4-7 4-6 12, Miller 2-5 0-0 5, Slone 0-0 0-0 0, Krebs 0-0 0-0 0, Halsell 0-0 1-2 1, Stewart 1-2 0-0 2, Perry 0-0 0-0 0, Liggins 2-6 6-6 10, Harrellson 6-12 2-2 15. Totals 26-52 16-22 72.
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, Indiana 13. 3-Pointers: Indiana 4-20 (Roth 3-6, Dumes 1-8, Williams 0-2, Story 0-2, Jones 0-2), Kentucky 4-15 (Meeks 2-6, Harrellson 1-3, Miller 1-3, Porter 0-2, Liggins 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 30 (Taber 7), Kentucky 38 (Stevenson 9). Assists: Indiana 12 (Moore 5), Kentucky 16 (Porter 4). Turnovers: Indiana 20, Kentucky 23. Blocks: Indiana 3 (Taber, Dumes, Jobe), Kentucky 12 (Stevenson 6, Patterson 3, Miller 2, Stewart). Steals: Indiana , Kentucky 8. Officials: Antinio Petty, Rick Hartzell, Mark Whitehead. Attendance: 23,767
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