By COLIN FLY
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Reserve Kyle Wiltjer scored a
personal-best 24 points and a trio of freshmen sparked No. 3
Kentucky's 17-2 second-half run to beat Loyola (Md.) 87-63 on
Thursday for the Wildcats' 42nd straight win at home.
Freshmen Wiltjer, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all
had afternoons to remember as Kentucky (11-1) heads into a five-day
break before the schedule begins to ramp up.
Baltimore-based Loyola (8-3) stayed close throughout the first
half and pestered Kentucky, which was missing preseason All-America
Terrence Jones for the second straight game after he dislocated the
pinky finger on his left, shooting hand on Saturday.
Erik Etherly scored 14 points, Dylon Cormier 13 and Justin
Drummond had 10 points for the Greyhounds.
Davis contributed 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks,
Kidd-Gilchrist added 15 points and seven rebounds and Darius Miller
had 13 points. Kentucky hosts Lamar on Wednesday night before
renewing its in-state rivalry with No. 4 Louisville on Dec. 31.
With a the Christmas break at hand, Kentucky needed to work a
little harder than expected after Etherly cut the lead to 45-41
with the first basket of the second half before Kentucky began
Wiltjer went 7 of 11 from the field after shooting 33 percent
over his previous eight games. His 3 early in the second half
extended Kentucky's streak to 799 straight games with at least one
from beyond the arc and Kidd-Gilchrist finished a dunk to give
Kentucky a 56-46 lead with 16:41 to play.
After a timeout, Etherly scored to cut it to eight, but
Kidd-Gilchrist and Wiltjer sparked the 17-2 run. A basket by
Wiltjer and a dunk by Eloy Vargas made it 73-50 as Loyola went 5:17
without a point because of Kentucky's throttling defense.
On one play, Davis crossed the lane and swatted J'hared Hall's
layup attempt for his third block of the game. Davis has 52 blocks,
on pace to easily break the school's season-single record of 83.
Jones again was not in uniform after his finger bent awkwardly
early in Saturday's win over Chattanooga. The 6-foot-9 sophomore
forward spent another game sitting sat beside Ryan Harrow and the
rest of the injured Wildcats after appearing in the first 48
straight games of his collegiate career.
Loyola's longest winning streak since joining Division I in
1981-82 ended at eight at St. Bonaventure on Sunday, and while the
Greyhounds hadn't played an SEC opponent in 28 years, they weren't
intimidated by the Rupp Arena crowd.
The Greyhounds only led once at 2-0, but stayed close and even
showed some swagger of their own, with Cormier doing his own
"3-googles" salute after hitting a long-range shot midway through
the first half.
After a 6-0 run gave Kentucky its first double-digit lead at
33-23, Loyola answered with an 8-0 run that was capped when the
Greyhounds stripped Marquis Teague in a halfcourt trap and Etherly
finished an alley-oop pass from Robert Olson on the break.
Etherly went right at Davis, one of the top college prospects in
the country, when he beat Wiltjer on the dribble and Davis couldn't
rotate over to block Etherly's emphatic dunk in time as the
Greyhounds trailed 45-39 at halftime.
The good feelings wouldn't carry over. After Loyola scored the
first basket of the second half, Kentucky tightened up its pressure
to pull away.
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