| | | |
By MURRAY EVANS
Associated Press Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Gerald Fitch scored 14 points and No. 8 Kentucky withstood a second-half rally to beat Austin Peay 61-53 Wednesday.
Kentucky (8-1) never trailed, but needed 5-for-6 shooting from the line in the final minute to hold off the Governors, who trimmed a 17-point second-half deficit to 56-53 with 2:49 left.
Austin Peay squandered a chance to tie when Adrian Henning missed a 3-point attempt with 2:02 left, and the Governors (3-7), the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions, missed their last four field goal attempts and two free throw tries.
Chuck Hayes had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Erik Daniels added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky, which is scheduled to host ninth-ranked North Carolina on Saturday.
Maurice Hampton scored 17 points in a reserve role for Austin Peay. Anthony Davis hit four second-half 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.
Austin Peay shot 5-for-24 from the field in the first half and 12-for-23 in the second half.
Davis made three 3-pointers in a 14-2 run as Austin Peay cut a 41-24 deficit to 43-38 with 9:09 mark.
Austin Peay, which lost five of its last six, closed within 53-51 with 3:56 left before Cliff Hawkins hit a 3-pointer for Kentucky.
Hayes and Hawkins each converted a pair of free throws in the final minute to help seal the win.
Kentucky charged to a 9-0 lead, but was then held scoreless for more than six minutes. Austin Peay failed to capitalize and didn’t score until almost five minutes into the game.
Smith, who has relied on a seven-player rotation most of the season, went deep into his bench and Kentucky’s starters didn’t return until four minutes later.
Kentucky led 18-12 with 3:40 left in the half before scoring the final eight points, the last two on a dunk by seldom-used 7-foot-3 freshman Shagari Alleyne at the buzzer.
Kentucky is 25-0 all-time against OVC teams, including a 4-0 against Austin Peay.