Mens Basketball: Kentucky 73, Utah Valley 63 - D1SportsNet

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Mens basketball

Kentucky 73, Utah Valley 63

No. 5 Kentucky opened its season Friday night with a 73-63 victory over Utah Valley.

The Wildcats (1-0) used an 18-0 run early in the second half to erase a 12-point deficit en route to the 10-point victory.

Kentucky was led in scoring by freshman guard Hamidou Diallo with 18 points, 13 coming in the second half. Next came freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 13 points, freshman forward Kevin Knox with 12 and freshman forward Nick Richards with 10. Sophomore Wenyen Gabriel led the Wildcats with 12 rebounds.

Senior guard Kenneth Ogbe topped Utah Valley (0-1) with 12 points. Sophomore guard Jake Toolson added 11 and junior guard Conner Toolson, senior guard Brandon Randolph and graduate student forward Zach Nelson scored 10 apiece.

The first half was dominated by Utah Valley as the Wolverines held a 34-25 lead at intermission. It was their largest lead of the night and built on a 7-0 run over the final 3:19 of the first half. Utah Valley outrebounded Kentucky 25-16 in the opening 20 minutes.

Neilson led the way with eight points. Randolph and Ogbe added five points each. Utah Valley shot 40 percent.

Kentucky was ice cold, shooting just 22 percent on 7-of-32. Richards led the way with eight points. Diallo and Gilgeous-Alexander added five each.

NOTES: In terms of degree of difficulty, no other team in America can match Utah Valley's opening to the 2017-18 basketball season. The Wolverines lost at No. 5 Kentucky 73-63 on Friday and face No. 1 Duke Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. ... Utah Valley won two games last year in the Mens Basketball Invitational, the school's first-ever postseason victories. ... Kentucky entered the regular season having won three exhibition games by an average of 36.7 points, averaging 100.3 points per game. ... Utah Valley coach Mark Pope was an important member of Kentucky's 1996 NCAA Tournament championship team.

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