Sam Houston State (2-1) hung around deep into the second half behind stellar 3-point shooting, led by senior guard Corey Allmond, who poured in 37 points and made a Rupp Arena record 11 3-pointers. The Bearkats made 18 of 38 3-pointers and never let Kentucky get comfortable.
The Wildcats survived behind Cousins and Patterson, who had little trouble doing whatever they wanted against the shorter, smaller Bearkats. Kentucky outscored Sam Houston State 48-18 in the paint and held a 48-33 advantage on the boards while shooting 60 percent from the floor.
Still, it wasn't exactly the kind of crisp performance coach John Calipari was looking for after Kentucky narrowly escaped an upset bid by Miami (Ohio) on Monday.
Wall hit a last-second jumper to lift the Wildcats to victory against the RedHawks.
There were no such heroics necessary this time, but the joy felt during Wall's dynamic debut was replaced with a sense of unease as Kentucky allowed another opponent to go crazy from behind the arc.
Calipari called Miami's performance - the RedHawks made 15 of 26 3-pointers - somewhat of a fluke and said he was "ecstatic" after the Wildcats rallied from an 18-point deficit to win.
He wasn't quite so cheery when Kentucky failed to put away the Bearkats, a member of the Southland Conference.
The Wildcats never trailed, but the inability to slow down Allmond or get any production from the bench - Kentucky's reserves did not score a single point - left Calipari in a frenzy.
He called timeout after timeout hoping to get his team to play with some defensive intensity. It never happened.
Allmond simply wouldn't let it. He hardly seemed bothered while being guarded by Wall, considered the top freshman in the country. Allmond knocked down eight 3-pointers in the first half alone. Some of the shots were flat-out ridiculous, including a double-pump leaning 3-pointer with Wall all over him.
Kentucky still managed to lead 53-42 at the half then opened the second half on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 18. Yet they simply couldn't get free.
Every time the Wildcats appeared to be ready to break it open, they would commit a turnover and the Bearkats would answer with another deep jumper.
Sam Houston State pulled to 81-73 with 6:58 remaining before one last burst by the Wildcats pushed the lead to 94-77. The Bearkats never got closer than 10 the rest of the way, but Kentucky's sloppy play had Calipari leaving the floor in a huff visibly angry at his team's lethargic defensive performance.