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Kentucky 82, Fairleigh Dickinson 52

LEXINGTON, Ky. - EJ Montgomery has worked to create offensive opportunities, so he wasn't too shocked by the plentiful chances he got against Fairleigh Dickinson.

Those looks culminated in a personal scoring best for the Kentucky forward and propelled the No. 8 Wildcats toward a milestone win in their historic home arena.

Montgomery scored a career-high 25 points, forward Keion Brooks added 15 off the bench and Kentucky dominated Fairleigh Dickinson 83-52 for its 600th victory at Rupp Arena.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore made 12 of 16 from the field, including several dunks to surpass his previous scoring best of 16 on Nov. 29 against UAB. Montgomery also had nine rebounds, a block and a steal, demonstrating his growing comfort zone in five games since after missing the previous three with a sprained right ankle.

“After I made my first shot, I just felt confident out there and just tried to compete,” Montgomery said. “My mindset was just this is my game, go out there and show and do what I do.”

Forward Nick Richards, at 6-11, had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (7-1), whose 19-2 run over 6:11 in the first half built a 43-23 halftime lead. Kentucky shot 52% and held the Knights (2-6) to 33% shooting, outrebounded them 42-33 and owned nearly statistic for their fifth consecutive victory after a week off.

The Wildcats became the fastest school to reach 600 wins in an arena in NCAA history. Kentucky achieved the milestone at the 43-year-old building named after coach Adolph Rupp in 670 games, surpassing the pace of UCLA (689 games at Pauley Pavilion) and Kansas (699 at Allen Fieldhouse).

Kentucky coach John Calipari seemed grateful for the advantages Rupp has provided in building a 173-10 mark there - and even more appreciative of the history.

“This is a unique place,” he said. “I'm blessed that I even had the opportunity. ... I don't know how many we've won in this building, whatever that is, but I'm glad we've played a part of it.”

Kentucky's latest home win also had plenty of contributors.

Ashton Hagans had 11 points and 11 assists, and the sophomore guard has averaged nine assists over his past five games. Freshman Johnny Juzang had four points, three rebounds and two steals in 23:27.

Kaleb Bishop had 12 points for the Knights, who led only in the early minutes. The Northeast Conference school was coming off Tuesday's 78-77 win over Quinnipiac that ended a five-game losing streak.

“I just wished we showed up,” FDU coach Greg Herenda said. “That's just not who our team is, but Kentucky had a lot to do with it.”

Associated Press

December 7, 2019