LEXINGTON – Western Kentucky was unable to carry its strong stretch against Power Five opponents into its nonconference finale.

After wins over Ole Miss and Louisville in its last three games, the Hilltoppers were blown out 95-60 by No. 20 Kentucky on Wednesday at Rupp Arena.

“Today, we had no answers. Sometimes you’ve just got to say the other team was better, and they were better in every area,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “I don’t have no answers for anything they did. When they play like that, I thought they were the best team in America today.”

WKU (8-5) got off to a slow start offensively in the first half and fell into a hole as big as 16 points with under five minutes to play in the period. The Hilltoppers shot just 34% from the field and started 0-of-8 from 3-point range before Josh Anderson hit the team’s first with 2:48 until the break to make it a single-digit game.

Kentucky (9-2) got a putback from Oscar Tshiebwe – part of an eight-point, 11-rebound half for the big man – and Jamarion Sharp had two free throws in the final minute to make it 37-28 going into the second half. The Wildcats used a 16-2 run early in the half to pull ahead and went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc – with Kellan Grady going 3-of-4 himself as part of a 12-point half – in the period.

“I think they just pressed up into us a little bit and got us out of our flow,” WKU guard Camron Justice said. “They really disrupted our offense a little bit the first half. It didn’t help that we weren’t knocking down shots that I thought were pretty good looks. That impacted the game a little bit as well.”

WKU scored the first five points of the second half to pull within four at 37-33, but 3-pointers from Grady bookended a 15-0 Kentucky run that put the Wildcats up 52-33 with 15:20 to play. After Josh Anderson ended the run with a layup, Kentucky reeled off six more points in a row to take a 58-35 lead with 13:22 to play.

On the final scoring sequence, WKU center Jamarion Sharp went down with an injury and didn’t return. Stansbury didn’t have a final update on Sharp, except he thought it might have been a sprained ankle. The Hilltoppers were already without forward Jaylen Butz due to COVID-19 protocols, and forward Isaiah Cozart was also unavailable Wednesday.

“We’re not going to make no excuses him being out of the game, for sure. They already made that run back on us,” Stansbury said. “We cut it to four the second half, probably first two minutes of the second half – it goes from nine to four – but at that point we had kind of three broken plays. Broken play we had, turned it over and they come down and hit a 3. Jamar shot a 15-footer – that’s not his strength – led to another 3-pointer. Then we missed two free throws. It goes from four to 12 in a minute and a half.”

From there, Kentucky continued to cruise to the 95-60 victory by outscoring WKU 58-32 over the final 20 minutes.

Grady finished with a game-high 23 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, and was one of four Kentucky players in double figures. TyTy Washington Jr. had 20 points, while Tshiebwe had 14 points and a Rupp Arena record 28 rebounds – WKU had 27 as a team. Jacob Toppin had 12 points in the win. The Wildcats shot 56% (38-of-68) in the game, and 45% (9-of-20) from 3-point range.

“The reality of it is we had 27 assists,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “That’s how you play basketball. That’s how you create for each other.”

Kentucky is scheduled to host Missouri on Dec. 29 in its SEC opener.

Anderson led WKU with 18 points off the bench and Justice had 13 points. The Hilltoppers shot just 33% (21-of-64) from the field and 15% (3-of-20) from 3-point range in the loss.

WKU will now enter the Conference USA portion of its schedule, which is scheduled to start with a road swing to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech for games Dec. 30 and Jan. 1.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.