NCAA Basketball

Richards' double-double powers No. 8 Kentucky

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman forward Nick Richards had 25 points and 15 rebounds as No. 8 Kentucky concluded its run of three games in six days before the Thanksgiving break with a 86-67 victory over Fort Wayne on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.

"He was pretty good today," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "I was just happy for how he was reaching for balls and the stuff that he was doing."

Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman was more to the point.

"He was the game," Coffman said. "He totally changed the game tonight for Kentucky. We couldn't keep him off the glass."

Kentucky (5-1) used a 34-12 spurt to start the second half to blow out to its largest lead of the night, 79-49 with 6:50 left to play, before coasting home for the 19-point victory.

From late in the first half to early in the second half, Kentucky outscored Fort Wayne 15-0 over a six-minute span.

"We just told them, 'You understand they got eight threes, so let's take away threes. You got to stay in front of the ball. If you don't stay in front of the ball, I'm taking you out. Every time you get beat for a layup, I'm taking you out,'" Calipari said.

"That's energy, that's effort, that's desire, that's fight. It has nothing to do with turnovers, missed shots, nothing. All of a sudden we stayed in front. It changed the game."

Three other Kentucky players scored in double figures -- freshmen Quade Green, Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, each with 11 points.

Kentucky shot 60 percent, including 45.5 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats had 44 rebounds, 16 assists and 16 turnovers.

The 86 points were a season high and the 19-point win the largest of the season for Kentucky.

"This is the game of basketball. If you think you're going to struggle, guess what? You're struggling," Calipari said.

"The only way that you can build confidence is working harder than everybody in practice. And the second thing is, you can't have the weight of the world on you and play this game. You got to play like you got nothing to lose. That's all I've been talking about to these guys. Every team that plays us plays like they have nothing to lose. All right, well, let us play that way. Let's play like we have nothing to lose."

Fort Wayne (3-2) got 19 points from senior guard John Konchar. Senior guard Bryson Scott added 18, and junior guard Kason Harrell had 12.

The Mastodons shot 40 percent and were outrebounded 44-21. They had 13 assists versus 10 turnovers.

"You're disappointed when you come out on the losing end," Coffman said. "But we don't talk a lot about wins and losses in our program.

"I think our guys came in with the right mindset. It's such an incredible environment, but I don't think it had any effect on our guys. That was a phenomenal feeling to watch our guys, just the poise."

The first half was a back-and-forth struggle with two ties and eight lead changes. Kentucky's biggest lead was eight points on a buzzer-beater by Hamidou Diallo to make it 45-37 at intermission. Fort Wayne's biggest lead was four points.

For the half, Kentucky shot an eye-popping 70.4 percent from the field.

Kentucky returns to action Sunday against Illinois-Chicago. Fort Wayne travels to East Tennessee State on Saturday.

NOTES: Kentucky's John Calipari is one win shy of 700 career coaching victories ... College basketball statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy ranks Kentucky the least-experienced team ever tracked by his service at ... Exactly one year ago Wednesday tonight, Fort Wayne stunned college basketball with an upset of No. 3 Indiana. It is the school's only win against a ranked opponent. The Mastodons are 1-16 in such games after Wednesday's loss to Kentucky. ... Calipari announced Wednesday that injured freshman F Jarred Vanderbilt should begin practicing within the next 10 days. The five-star recruit has yet to play this season because of a foot injury.

Updated November 23, 2017

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