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No. 18 Missouri holds off second-half surge to beat Kentucky

Missouri: Notched only its second win over the Wildcats, with the only other victory coming Feb. 3, 2018.
Credit: AP
Kentucky's Dontaie Allen, right, loses control of the ball in front of Missouri's Jeremiah Tilmon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Dru Smith scored a season-high 26 points, Xavier Pinson added 14 and No. 18 Missouri withstood a second-half charge to beat Kentucky 75-70 on Wednesday night.

Smith also had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with 6-for-11 shooting. The senior also went 12 of 14 from the free throw line, knocking down numerous key foul shots late to help the Tigers (12-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) hold on.

Down 40-27 at halftime, Kentucky went on a 15-3 run to start the second half and cut Missouri’s lead to one. But the Wildcats (5-11, 4-5) never got the lead, hunt by a scoring drought of more than three minutes.

Mark Smith tacked on 11 points for Missouri, hitting three 3-pointers.

Davion Mintz led Kentucky with 18 points and made four 3s. Keion Brooks Jr. and Brandon Boston Jr. tallied 10 apiece.

Missouri won its fifth game in sixth tries, while Kentucky has lost five of its last six. The game was held a day after its previously scheduled date due to COVID-19 protocols in the Wildcats’ program, issues that forced the cancellation of their slated SEC/Big 12 Challenge game against Texas on Saturday.

In a foul-prone second half where both teams were in the bonus with 11:28 remaining, numerous players dealt with foul trouble late into the game. Kentucky big man Olivier Sarr fouled out with 5:32 to play while Boston did so with 1:01 left. Three other players (Kentucky’s Devin Askew and Lance Ware, Missouri’s Kobe Brown) were saddled with four fouls.

LETTING IT FLY

Both teams shot well above their averages from 3-point range. Entering Wednesday shooting 30.1% for the season, Missouri went 7 of 11 (64%) from deep in the first half and 9 of 21 (42.9%) for the game. Kentucky, shooting at a 29% clip before its trip to Columbia, finished 9 of 20 (45%) from deep.

FLETCHER SUITS UP

Freshman guard Cam’Ron Fletcher — a St. Louis native — played in his home state for his first appearance since being suspended by coach John Calipari following an emotional outburst on the bench in a loss to North Carolina on Dec. 19. His shift was brief; Fletcher played just a single minute and recorded no stats.

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: Notched only its second win over the Wildcats, with the only other victory coming Feb. 3, 2018. The Tigers also improved to 7-1 this season when Pinson and Dru Smith each reach double figures in scoring.

Kentucky: Having dropped to 4-5 in SEC play, the Wildcats now have a losing conference record for the first time since February 2018.

UP NEXT

Missouri: Plays No. 10 Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at home.

Kentucky: Takes on No. 11 Tennessee at 7 p.m. Saturday at home.

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