Cats extinguish Flames, 80-54

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky Wildcats, coming off a two week layoff, broke open a seven-point game by outscoring the Liberty Flames 12-4 in the last 3:27 of the first half, and cruised to an 80-54 victory. Patrick Patterson and Joe Crawford combined for 45 points and 17 rebounds in the win.

Kentucky last took the court two weeks ago, in an embarrassing 18-point homecourt upset loss to Atlantic Sun team Gardner-Webb. The two week layoff did not initially appear to bother the Cats, as they bolted to a 12-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game behind the strength of two Ramel Bradley 3-point field goals.

The momentum would stall, however, as Kentucky could manage only 12 more points in the next 12:33, and was clinging to a 24-17 lead with 3:27 to go in the first half. UK outscored Liberty 12-4 to close the half behind five points each from Michael Porter and Joe Crawford to end the half with a 15-point bulge.

In the second half, the Flames could get no closer than 13, and Kentucky enjoyed a 32-point lead, its biggest of the game, with 4:10 remaining before settling for a 26-point win. "It was a great win for us tonight," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. "We did a good job of getting the ball to Patrick [Patterson]. I thought our post guys did a really good job of stealing as far as high-post passes and going over the top. We don't quite understand everything yet, but we're trying hard."

Kentucky was led in scoring and rebounding by Patterson, scoring 23 points on 8-13 shooting, 7-8 free throws, and grabbed 10 boards for his second double-double as a Wildcat. Crawford added 22 points and seven rebounds. A.J. Stewart and Bradley added 10 points each. Bradley also added six assists and five rebounds. Alex McLean led Liberty with 15 points.

Kentucky shot 55% from the floor, and hit 17-20 free throws (85%) for the game. With injuries mounting, as starters Jodie Meeks, Ramon Harris and Derrick Jasper sidelined, the Wildcats shortened their bench, as only six players played double digit minutes, and five players played 29+ minutes in the game.

Kentucky (2-1) will stay at home to face Texas Southern on Saturday.

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