Sharpshooter CJ Fredrick hit a pair of 3-pointers and totaled eight points to spark a crucial second-half run, lifting No. 19 Kentucky to a 60-41 victory over pesky in-state foe Bellarmine on Tuesday night in Lexington, Ky.
Fredrick, who finished with 11 points, helped Kentucky (5-2) outscore the visiting Knights (2-6) 23-3 over a 10-minute period for a 51-35 lead with 6:07 left. Forward Jacob Toppin also had eight points in that span.
Known more for owning the paint with big man Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky made 5 of 11 threes in the second half and went 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the field to create separation after Bellarmine surprisingly had the game tied at halftime.
Antonio Reeves led Kentucky with 18 points and had five rebounds, and Toppin had 12 points and five rebounds. Tshiebwe scored eight points to go with 12 rebounds.
Located in Louisville, the Knights had already lost to ranked Duke and UCLA teams on the road after upsetting crosstown rival Louisville on Nov. 9.
On a lengthy road swing spanning 5,633 miles, Bellarmine made stops in three of college basketball’s most famous arenas — Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and Kentucky’s Rupp Arena.
Against the Southeastern Conference power, Curt Hopf led Bellarmine with 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting from long range. Bash Wieland had 10 points and eight rebounds.
A 24 1/2-point underdog, the Knights frustrated Kentucky, holding the Wildcats to just 3-for-10 shooting and leading 10-6 at the second media timeout. Alec Pfriem’s free throws pushed Bellarmine ahead 14-13 with 5:13 in the half.
Kentucky scored the next eight points, but the visitors closed the half on a strong 7-0 run with Juston Betz’s two layups and Hopf’s third long ball. The teams headed to the locker rooms tied at 21.
The second proved to be more of the same early on. The left-handed Hopf drained another from beyond the arc at 16:08 — his fifth overall — as the Knights stretched their lead to 32-28 before the Wildcats’ pivotal run.
The victory moved Wildcats coach John Calipari’s record to 22-3 against competition from within the Bluegrass State.