LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kevin Knox had 20 points, Hamidou Diallo added 19 and No. 7 Kentucky’s 13-0 run midway through the second half provided a cushion that held off Harvard 79-70 on Saturday.
Kentucky (7-1) returned from a six-day break to shoot well for most of the game and lead the Ivy League Crimson throughout. It wasn’t easy, and the Wildcats needed that initial accuracy to counter Harvard’s 12 3-pointers — including six by sophomore forward Seth Towns (25 points) — that kept the Crimson within reach.
The Wildcats’ key run over 2:42 for a 72-52 lead withstood a cold spell down the stretch that Harvard took advantage of to get within nine on Towns’ 3 with 22 seconds remaining. Kentucky ran out the clock from there to win the first meeting between the schools and earn its fifth straight victory.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 12 points for the Wildcats, who shot 46 percent but were just 2 of 12 from long range.
Towns made 8 of 14 shots for Harvard, which shot 37 percent but was 12 of 28 from behind the arc.
Harvard: Just as critical as making all those 3s was a bench that outscored Kentucky 44-26. The Crimson faced a huge hurdle keeping up with the Wildcats’ length and speed, factors that made the difference in allowing Kentucky to hold on. Danilo Djuricic had 10 points.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had a tough task following a 34-point win over Illinois-Chicago but seemed capable of handling it in never trailing. But they struggled defending the Crimson from the outside, allowing a big lead to be cut down in the final minutes. The Wildcats owned the paint 42-20 but barely won the rebounding battle 37-36.
Harvard hosts Fordham on Wednesday.
Kentucky enters final exams before facing Monmouth on Dec. 9 at Madison Square Garden.