Men's Basketball

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Video – On Now 12/23
Video – On Now 12/23

AP Sports Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Gerald Fitch scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and Erik Daniels had 15 points, seven rebounds and a career-high eight assists as second-ranked Kentucky beat Eastern Kentucky 101-72 Tuesday night.

Cliff Hawkins had 16 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 13 for Kentucky (7-0), which has won 27 consecutive regular-season games since an 81-63 loss to Louisville last Dec. 28. The Wildcats and Cardinals play Saturday at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky shot 64 percent (43 of 67) and had a season-high 28 assists — many of them coming on fast breaks. Their active, swarming defense was just as impressive, generating 18 steals and 25 Eastern Kentucky turnovers.

Michael Haney scored 15 points to lead the overmatched Colonels (3-5).

Kentucky was playing its first home game since Nov. 28 and dominated from the start, taking a 12-2 lead in the first five minutes. The Colonels committed four turnovers and missed seven of their first eight shots in that span, while the Wildcats started 6-of-8.

Jon Bentley scored on an inbound play, but consecutive 3-pointers by Azubuike and Fitch kept the Wildcats rolling.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith pulled all five starters — Fitch, Daniels, Hawkins, Azubuike and Chuck Hayes — with 14:03 left in the opening half and the Wildcats already up 18-4.

Smith substituted freely for the rest of the half, tinkering with different lineups and getting minutes for nearly all his reserves.

The Wildcats still shot 66 percent (21 of 32) in the first half and built a 48-32 lead at break.

Kentucky’s starting five opened the second half with an 11-0 burst, forcing four Eastern Kentucky turnovers in the first two minutes.

Smith yanked the last of his starters with 5:41 left and the Wildcats ahead 97-60.

Eastern Kentucky is coached by Travis Ford, who played point guard for Kentucky from 1992-94. Ford received a loud cheer from the capacity crowd during pre-game introductions.

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