LEXINGTON — A flurry of first-half 3-pointers helped Belmont build an early lead over No. 19 Kentucky, but the Bruins' bid to upset a second powerhouse program ran out of steam.
The Wildcats (9-3) fought back in the second half to beat Belmont 93-80 and hand the Bruins (8-5) their third consecutive loss after an 8-2 start.
"I was sure proud of our team," Belmont coach Rick Byrd. "You would have been, too if you had seen our last two games and seen how poorly we'd played. The kind of effort that we're used to seeing, we didn't give on the road at South Dakota State and Denver.
"This game became about, 'Let's get back to who we are and what we do and do it well a lot more often than we did on the road.' I think we accomplished that."
The Bruins won at No. 12 North Carolina last month by hitting 15 of 37 from 3-point range, and they tried to replicate that formula before 24,224 at Rupp Arena. Belmont made 7 of 18 from long range in the first half but went cold in the second, missing 6 of their first 7 attempts from beyond the arc as the Wildcats took the momentum.
Kentucky took its first lead of the game with 16:21 remaining and didn't let up.
The Wildcats made 26 of 36 free throws while Belmont had just 13 attempts, making nine. They outscored the Bruins 52-34 in the paint.
Julius Randle scored a career-high 29 points, Aaron Harrison added 23 and Willie Cauley-Stein had 16 for Kentucky.
"The big difference in the game was Julius Randle," Byrd said. "I don't know, if they didn't have him, how well we could guard them, but the guy took eight shots and scored 29 points. . We couldn't stop him from making them except to foul him."