LEXINGTON, Ky. – Brandon Knight scored 22 points and No. 10 Kentucky shot its way past Penn 86-62 on Monday night.
Josh Harrellson added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Darius Miller had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Wildcats (12-2) used some scorching second-half shooting to subdue the Quakers (5-6).
Kentucky led by just one at the break but hit 12 of its first 13 second-half shots to bust it open. Doron Lamb knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during a game-clinching 15-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 66-45 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Tyler Bernardini led Penn with 22 points and Miles Cartwright added 16 but the Quakers couldn't keep up when Kentucky hit the gas in the second half. The Wildcats went 18 of 22 (82 percent) in the second half, numbers that could have been even higher if not for a couple of misses in garbage time.
Penn led by as much as 12 early but had no answer when the Wildcats awoke following a sleepy opening 15 minutes.
It was a nap Kentucky coach John Calipari feared after Kentucky easily dispatched rival Louisville on Dec. 31. He worried about his team suffering a letdown in a game sandwiched between the annual showdown with the Cardinals and the opening of Southeastern Conference play on Saturday.
For a few fleeting moments, Penn did its best to prove Calipari's fears right.
While Kentucky missed 3-pointers, turned the ball over and struggled to find any kind of rhythm offensively, the Quakers went off.
Running down the clock to slow the game down then drilling jumpers just before the shot clock hit zero, the Quakers built a 31-19 lead behind a steady stream of 3-pointers by Bernardini, who put together his highest scoring game in nearly two years.
It wouldn't last. Calipari sent DeAndre Liggins out to smother Bernardini and Kentucky's offense finally woke up. Harrellson helped, crashing the boards on offense to breathe life into the Wildcats and giving his teammates a defensive spark by blocking shot after shot. He swatted a career-high six shots, including two on one possession.
It wasn't the career-defining 23-point, 14-rebound performance he put together against Louisville, but it was enough to help the Wildcats snap out of their funk.
Kentucky ended the half with a 14-1 burst to take a 33-32 lead into the break, and the Wildcats were just getting started.
Knight, who has been praised by Calipari for learning how to run the team, led Kentucky through 10 offensively flawless minutes to start the second half. He knocked down two 3-pointers early in the half as the Wildcats extended the lead to double-digits.
Kentucky's athleticism eventually wore the Quakers down. During one sequence Lamb chased down a wayward pass in the corner then threw it to Harrellson at the top of the key. As Penn's defense scrambled to get back in position Harrellson flipped the ball to a wide-open Knight, who calmly splashed his fourth 3-pointer of the game and the Wildcats were well on their way to a seventh straight victory.