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Kentucky puts West Virginia away with early run

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kentucky's 20-0 run was too much for
West Virginia to overcome.

The No. 13 Mountaineers seized a 9-2 lead over No. 7 Kentucky at
the outset, then lost their cool and missed 13 straight shots while
the Wildcats scored 20 straight points, then held on for an 80-66
victory Tuesday night in the consolation game of the Guardians
Classic.

Patrick Sparks had 25 points for Kentucky (3-1), including three
3-pointers in the first-half run that proved decisive. West
Virginia (2-2) spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.

"We did not allow them to get a rhythm early on," said
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. "We extended our defense. I thought
our guys did a good job of getting out on them and contesting their
shots."

Twice the Mountaineers cut the lead to three, the last time with
8:23 left when Patrick Beilein and Kevin Pittsnogle hit
back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 56-53.

But Ravi Moss answered with a 3 for the Wildcats and a few
minutes later Sparks hit his seventh 3-pointer and Rajon Rondo
scored for a 68-58 advantage.

"They're just a great team," said Mike Gansey, who had 12
points for West Virginia. "Rondo kept making plays for them."

Kentucky also crossed up the Mountaineers by going to a zone
defense.

"Maybe because we played yesterday we were tired," said
Gansey. "Teams like that you don't see very often will sometimes
try different things. I think that's what they wanted to do."

Said West Virginia coach John Beilein, "We may have panicked
just a little."

Rondo had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sparks was 7-for-11 from
behind the arc, matching his career-high. He also had six assists.

Kentucky was 2-for-8 from the foul line before making its last
six free throws in the final 70 seconds to seal the victory.

"We decided to put the ball in Patrick's hands a little more,"
Smith said. "He's more experienced. He's a veteran player. He'll
beat you with his savvy and deception with his ball handling."

Pittsnogle tied his career-high with 27 points and also had 10
rebounds. The only other Mountaineer in double figures was Gansey.

"Once we were down we thought we could get back into it by
making shots and making good plays," said Pittsnogle. "You get
down by three or four, it's all right. But if you're down 10 or 12
it's really hard, no matter how good your shooters are, to get back
into it."

Pittsnogle, a 6-11 center, made shots both inside and outside.

"Pittsnogle got hot and made some jumpers," said Smith. "He
was very impressive. When you have shooters like that, you've got
to be careful playing a zone."

The Mountaineers, who earned a preseason ranking for the first
time in 43 years, went scoreless for 9:52 during Kentucky's 20-0
run until Pittsnogle made a short jumper in the lane.

The Wildcats, the preseason choice in the Southeastern
Conference, shot 55 percent after hitting only 33 percent in a
67-63 loss on Monday night to No. 18 Iowa, which met No. 2 Texas in
the title game.

"We passed the ball better than last night," Smith said. "And
we took better shots. Last night we dribbled too much and did a lot
of crazy things."

West Virginia cut the lead to 28-23 on Pittsnogle's 3-pointer
with 3:23 left in the first half before Kentucky scored the next
five points on Jared Carter's tip-in and three-point play. Frank
Young's 3-pointer at the buzzer left the Wildcats with a 33-26
halftime lead.

The Mountaineers, who had a school-record 319 3-pointers last
season, missed 10 of their first 11 and finished 10-for-37 from
behind the arc.