With 16:32 remaining in Saturday's contest between the Colonels of EKU and the Wildcats of UK the visitors trailed by a single point, 40-39. An 11-3 Kentucky run over the next two-minutes created a working margin that Kentucky would not surrender as the Wildcats went on to a 78-65 victory.
It was the juniors who led the Cats to victory on this day as Randolph Morris and Ramel Bradley scored 25 and 20 points respectively. This marks the first time this season that two Wildcats have score twenty or more points in the same game. Fellow junior Joe Crawford pitched in 13. Morris led the Wildcats to a 38-26 edge in rebounding with ten. It was Morris's fourth double-double of the season. The juniors shot a combined 21-34 leading UK offensively. The Cats shot 51.8% from the field for the game, marking the second consecutive game where the team hit more than half of its field goal attempts.
Eastern Kentucky hung tough for the first 25 minutes thanks in large part to Adam Leonard's six for six shooting from behind the arc. Leonard was in a zone from long range, hitting many of his shots with the hand of a UK player in his face. Leonard abused several UK defenders until Bradley took the defensive assignment and Leonard was held scoreless over the final fourteen plus minutes of play. Leonard led Eastern with 20 points.
Morris's 25 points ties a career high. He also scored 25 points in a game against Campbell on December 29, 2004.
Bradley has now scored in double figures in each game since he was moved to the starting wing guard spot six games ago. His 4-7 shooting from behind the arc raised his season average from three-point land to 43.5%. Bradley's 4-4 shooting from the charity stripe gives him an SEC leading 88.9% for the season.
After the game Bradley was asked about his three-point shooting. The junior said, "It's a great feeling when you put it up and the shot goes down. You just have to shoot the ball with confidence all the time. When you do that, you're going to make shots."
Two defensive streaks ended on this day for the Wildcats. The Colonels shot 43.9% from the field today, ending UK's streak of seven consecutive opponents held under 40 percent. The Colonels also hit on 41.7% on three-pointers, ending UK's five-game streak of holding opponents under 32 percent from behind the arc.
In his post game comments Coach Tubby Smith praised the performance of the football Wildcats, 28-20 winners of the Music City Bowl championship yesterday. Coach Smith said, "Overall, it's been a good weekend for all Wildcat fans. Watching the football game yesterday was exciting and I want to commend the Wildcat football team, Coach Brooks and his staff on the win. Wish we could have been there for that."
The Music City Bowl champs also received the loudest cheer of the afternoon when clips of the win over Clemson were shown on the video board at the half of the UK-EKU game.
The University plans to honor the football team when the players return to school for the beginning of the spring term. The players departed Nashville for their respective homes for some well-deserved rest and relaxation and did not return to the Lexington campus following the victory.
Kentucky returns to action Wednesday at home against Houston. The game will be tip at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.
Cats are rusty, but defeat Eastern 78-65
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