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Kentucky thwarts Utah State upset bid, rallies from halftime deficit for 73-63 victory

Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky accomplished at least two things in Friday's 73-63 victory over Utah Valley. The Cats got the 2017-18 season off to a successful start. And the Cats confirmed, at least for the time being, the suspicion that they will be a much better team in an up-tempo game.

Kentucky played a half-court game in the first half. It got out on the fast break in the second half.

The difference was startling.

Facing a set defense, UK trailed, 34-25, at halftime.

With its transition game engaged in the second half, Kentucky pulled away.

Kentucky was at a distinct disadvantage in terms of experience. The Cats started five freshmen. Utah Valley started three fifth-year seniors, a junior and a third-year sophomore.

At least for a half, this difference showed as Utah Valley got back on defense and forced Kentucky to try to display the kind of "winning basketball" that coach John Calipari said on Thursday would need to be developed over time.

Much to Kentucky's benefit, the second half bore little resemblance to the first.

Kentucky will play another veteran-laden team on Sunday in Vermont.

Utah Valley, which has been picked to finish third or fourth in the Western Athletic Conference, continues what it calls "the toughest 24 hours in college basketball history" by playing at Duke on Saturday night.

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