Wildcats Cruise Past Texas Southern

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Joe Crawford had a career-high 32 points in his first start of the season and Kentucky cruised past Texas Southern 83-35 Saturday night.

The Wildcats (3-1) won for the second straight time since falling to Gardner-Webb in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. It was their largest margin of victory since beating Vanderbilt 106-44 on Mar. 5, 2003.

Crawford, a senior guard who was a regular starter last year for Tubby Smith, made a major case that he should get his job back under new coach Billy Gillispie.

He matched a career-best with 12 field goals on 17 attempts and provided a spark in the first half from beyond the arc and a spark in the second from the paint.

Up 6-5 early, the Wildcats scored the next 15 points -- 10 of them from Crawford -- to bury the Tigers.

Crawford hit two free throws to begin the streak after drawing a foul on a fourth-chance shot. Then, 11 seconds later, Crawford intercepted a pass and cruised alone down the court to finish with a dunk. He'd add two 3-pointers to pad the lead.

During another span in the second half, Crawford began to misfire from long-range, so he took the ball to the hoop. He made a fastbreak layup, then set a career-high with a 3-point play on an alley-oop from fellow senior Ramel Bradley.

Kentucky made 61 percent of its shots (77 percent in the first half). The Wildcats dominated the much smaller Tigers in the paint with freshman power forward Patrick Patterson, who had 21 points and seven rebounds.

The Wildcats made five of their first seven shots from beyond the arc, and Patterson made his first eight shots from the field, mixing layups and dunks with finesse jumpers.

Texas Southern connected on just 21 percent of its shots and was overmatched on the boards in the first half, failing to get its fourth rebound until 15 minutes had passed. Three Wildcats -- Patterson, Crawford and Bradley -- had more first half rebounds than the Tigers' team leader.

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