INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Bam Adebayo had 15 points and 18 rebounds on Friday night as Kentucky showed the new kids on their block how it's done at NCAA Tournament time, gritting out a 79-70 victory over stubborn Northern Kentucky.
The second-seeded Wildcats (30-5) won their 12th straight and got their first-game jitters out of the way. They also wound up with a surprisingly close finish after pulling ahead by 18 points in the second half.
The Norse (24-11) closed within 75-68 on Drew McDonald's 3-pointer with 35 seconds left. Malik Monk made four free throws to close it out. Monk, the SEC's player of the year, missed all of his six shots from beyond the arc and finished with 12 points, eight below his average. Freshman De'Aaron Fox scored 19 points.
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Northern Kentucky reached the tournament in its first year of eligibility, only the seventh team to do so since 1970. For the Norse, the tournament was more of a starting point than the end of a season.