By: Nate Gatter, KCOU Sports
In a tightly officiated game at Mizzou Arena on Thursday night, top-ranked Kentucky (20-0, 7-0 SEC) pulled away in the second half and cruised to a 69-53 win over Mizzou.
Namon Wright knocked down a fade-away six-footer to beat the shot clock and put Missouri (7-13, 1-6 SEC) into the lead, 17-16, with 7:33 to play in the first half.
The Tigers would not lead again.
Trey Lyles converted two free throws just 17 seconds later, and Kentucky lead the remaining 27:16 of the contest.
Andrew Harrison spearheaded a balanced Kentucky offensive performance with 15 points. His brother Aaron added 11. The pair also combined to pull down six rebounds and dish out five assists.
For Missouri, Wes Clark led the way with a career-high 19 points while also providing a game-high four assists as Mizzou dropped its sixth straight game. Jonathan Williams III contributed 10 points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
Missouri hung close early on; Ryan Rosburg’s six points in the first half helped the Tigers keep the game within single digits. Kentucky took the momentum into halftime, however, after Karl-Anthony Towns floated a hook shot in from the right block just before the buzzer.
Starting the second half, Missouri showed energy. Clark banked in a leaner to close the gap to six, 38-32, with 14:25 to go, and the Mizzou defense forced Kentucky into several consecutive difficult shots.
But Missouri foul trouble intervened—Wright and Montaque Gill-Caesar picked up their fourth fouls within a minute of each other—and the Wildcats seized their opportunity. Kentucky’s proceeding 18-4 run took nearly seven minutes off the clock and put Missouri to rest.
The matchup featured 54 total fouls, resulting in five players—Wright, Gill-Caesar, and Keanu Post for Missouri, Towns and Marcus Lee for Kentucky—fouling out.
Kentucky freshman Devin Booker, whose father, Melvin, starred on the Missouri basketball team, scored nine points despite hearing plenty of boos from the crowd in his first game at Mizzou Arena after spurning the Tigers in favor of Kentucky during his recruitment .
Missouri will wrap up its three-game homestand when it takes on Mississippi (13-7, 4-3 SEC) at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.