Lexington, Ky. — John Calipari breathed a sigh of relief after his team survived another scare.
Ashton Hagans scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 9 Kentucky fought through another close game against what should have been a lesser opponent, beating Utah Valley, 82-74, on Monday night.
“I’m happy we won,” Calipari said. “This season as long as it goes and being here and knowing how teams play against us, and how they’re charged up and then the next game they don’t play as well … whew. I was trying to be as positive as I could be until the end. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
The Wildcats (3-1) dropped out of the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press Top 25 after losing at home to Evansville last week, and they had to overcome a late surge to hold off the Wolverines.
Kentucky led by 16 points early in the second half, but Utah Valley steadily chipped away until T.J. Washington’s 3-pointer got the Wolverines (3-2) within one at 68-67 with 3:26 remaining. Nate Sestina responded with a three-point play that helped the Wildcats pull away.
“We knew that coming in here Kentucky was going to be amped up and they were,” Utah Valley coach Mark Madsen said. “Kentucky did a fantastic job of executing their game plan and really making big plays down the stretch.”
Kentucky was without second-leading scorer Immanuel Quickley, who sat out because of a chest injury. Quickley has scored 16 points in each of the last two games.
The Wildcats also have been without forward EJ Montgomery, who has missed the past three games because of an ankle injury. Coupled with Quickley’s injury, Kentucky’s roster has dwindled to seven scholarship players, leaving the Wildcats short-handed in practice.
“We are who we are right now,” Calipari said. “We are what the score says we are. … We got to get E.J. back, got to get Immanuel back and figure out what we are.”
Hagans also has battled a leg injury this season, but he has remained consistent.
“I was just staying focused,” Hagans said. “I was just staying in the gym and shooting and when I got the chance, I attacked the basket. If my teammates are open, I got them some shots, got everybody involved and play my role.”
Nick Richards had 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey added 14 points for Kentucky.
Washington led the Wolverines with 22 points, followed by Trey Woodbury with 17 and Jamison Overton with 10.
(At) Central Michigan 115, Siena Heights 58: Dallas Morgan had a career-high 27 points, including seven 3-pointers, as Central Michigan rolled past Siena Heights.
Rob Montgomery had 17 points for Central Michigan (4-0). Travon Broadway added 15 points and seven assists. Corey Redman had 11 points and David DiLeo, averaging 23 points, was held to seven points.
DeMarco Dickerson had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Saints. He also had eight turnovers. Kevin Smith added 13 points.
(At) Oakland 60, Hartford 50: Xavier Hill-Mais recorded 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Daniel Oladapo added 12 points and 12 rebounds as Oakland topped Hartford.
Kevin Kangu had 11 points for the Golden Grizzlies (4-2), which earned their fourth straight home victory.
Oakland led 34-19 at halftime after holding Hartford to 7-of-25 shooting (25%). Hill-Mais had 12 points and six rebounds at the break, and Oladapo added 10 points and eight boards.
D.J. Mitchell had 11 points for the Hawks (3-2). Hunter Marks added 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Traci Carter had six steals.
Big Ten men
(At) No. 10 Ohio State 86, Stetson 51: Kyle Young had a career-high 15 points and Kaleb Wesson added 13 to lead Ohio State past Stetson.
The Buckeyes (4-0), who moved up six spots in the AP Top 25 after beating then-No. 10 Villanova last week, jumped out to a 28-3 lead against the overmatched Hatters (2-2), built a 42-14 halftime advantage and cruised in the second half.
D.J. Carton had 10 points and Justin Ahrens had nine, hitting three 3-pointers. Young completed his double-double with 10 boards.
The bright spot for Stetson was Rob Perry, who finished with 17 points.
(At) Illinois 66, Hawaii 53: Kofi Cockburn scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Illinois.
Cockburn, a 7-foot freshman from Jamaica, recorded his third double-double in four games this season. Trent Frazier added 13 points, Giorgi Bezhanishvili 10 and Andres Feliz had 10 assists for Illinois (3-1).
Zigmars Raimo led Hawaii (3-2) with 16 points. Eddie Stansberry, the Rainbow Warriors leading scorer (20 points per game) was held to 10 points on 4-of -4 shooting, thanks to the smothering defense of Frazier.
Top 25 men
(At) No. 15 Utah State 82, UTSA 50: Sam Merrill scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead Utah State past UTSA.
Diogo Brito added 17 points and Brock Miller chipped in 10 for the Aggies. Justin Bean and Alphonso Anderson each had 11 rebounds.
Utah State (5-0) dominated the inside, outrebounding UTSA 55-36, outscoring the Roadrunners 46-16 in the paint and 38-8 in second-chance points.
Jhivvan Jackson scored 15 points to lead the Roadrunners (0-5).
(At) No. 19 Auburn 91, Colgate 62: Samir Doughty scored 20 points, Austin Wiley had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Auburn rolled past Colgate.
The Tigers improved to 5-0 for the first time in 15 years.
Colgate (1-3) struggled to get anything going against the Tigers’ overwhelming size and suffocating defense. Jordan Burns had 18 points and Rapolas Ivanauskas added 12 for the Raiders.
(At) No. 23 Colorado 69, UC Irvine 53: Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright each scored 16 points and Colorado leaned on a strong defensive effort to beat UC Irvine.
Colorado (3-0) pressured Irvine into 22 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Buffaloes, who have won all eight of their meetings with the Anteaters. It was the 17th win in Colorado’s last 19 home games.
Collin Welp had 12 points to lead Irvine (3-2). Tommy Rutherford added 10 points.