Houston 70

(5-7, 1-5 away)

Kentucky 77

(11-3, 10-1 home)

    7:00 PM ET, January 3, 2007

    Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky

    1 2 T
    HOU 32 3870
    UK 39 3877

    Top Performers

    Houston: O. Lafayette 19 Pts, 9 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl

    Kentucky: R. Morris 20 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Blk

    Kentucky 77, Houston 70

    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- The shots were ugly. The game was close. The tuneup for conference play simply turned up more problems for Kentucky.

    But guard Ramel Bradley figures Wednesday was the perfect time for the Wildcats to stink up Rupp Arena in their 77-70 victory over Houston.

    "I'd prefer we win every game by 50 points, but this prepares us for game situations," Bradley said.

    Kentucky shot just 39 percent from the field -- its worst of the season -- and missed 22 of its season-high 30 3-point attempts.

    But somehow, for some reason, Kentucky is headed into the Southeastern Conference play on a seven-game winning streak.

    "Not as clean and crisp as we wanted, but at this point, a win is a win," center Randolph Morris said.

    Morris, once again, was a bright spot. He had 20 points -- half of them from the free-throw line -- and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double in six games.

    "When we get him the ball, good things happen," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.

    The Wildcats (11-3) never trailed but couldn't pull away from the Cougars despite an early 10-0 lead. Their previous worst shooting effort of 41 percent came last month in a much more comfortable victory over Santa Clara.

    A 3-point play by Oliver Lafayette with less than three minutes to go tied the game at 68, but Morris hit a turn-around jumper to give the Wildcats the lead for good.

    Freshman guard Derrick Jasper had 12 points to match a career high.

    "It's like one of those games we had to grind out," Jasper said.

    The Cougars (5-7), who lost three in a row prior to their visit to Rupp Arena, kept making clutch 3-pointers to keep it close. Lafayette led all Cougars scorers with 19 points.

    "When you force the zone, you've got to shoot 3s," Houston coach Tom Penders said.

    Although Houston outscored Kentucky in the paint 30-26, Kentucky was able to hold on largely because Morris stayed out of foul trouble and the Cougars didn't. The Wildcats made 24 trips to the line and connected on 17 of the shots, compared with five for Houston.

    Shooting from the field was another story for the Wildcats. Kentucky made its first five shots in the first three minutes but connected on barely one-third of them -- 21 of 61 -- after that.

    Despite woeful early shooting by the Cougars, offensive rebounds -- including three on one possession -- kept the game from getting too far out of hand.

    The Cougars tied the game at 44 when Jahmar Thorpe scored on a layup and drew a foul from Jasper. But Thorpe missed the free throw and Sheray Thomas hit a 3-pointer the next trip down to give Kentucky more breathing room.

    Thomas later committed what appeared to be a critical foul when Dion Dowell was attempting a 3-point shot, but he missed all three free throws.

    "I lucked out," Thomas said.

    Houston tied the game anyway a minute later on a 3-pointer by Lafayette.

    Kentucky begins SEC play Saturday at Mississippi.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 70 77
    FG Made-Attempted 27-75 (.360) 26-66 (.394)
    3P Made-Attempted 11-34 (.324) 8-30 (.267)
    FT Made-Attempted 5-9 (.556) 17-24 (.708)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 9 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 12

    2006-07 Season

    » Jan 3, 2007 @UK 77, HOU 70Recap