LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Tennessee State started fast against 20th ranked Kentucky, but the host Wildcats roared back with a 68-point second half on their way to defeating the Tigers 115-87 Monday night in Rupp Arena.
The Tigers led much of the first half over the stunned Wildcats. UK broke a 32-32 tie at the 5:32 mark to make a 13-0 run to build a 45-32 advantage with 2:35 remaining. TSU would cut the difference to 47-40 at intermission.
?We wanted to come out with energy and enthusiasm and we did that against an outstanding team,? said TSU acting head coach Hosea Lewis. ?Kentucky hurt us especially in the second half with pressure to make a run, and they got easy baskets in the second half. However, we gave a good effort and proved to be competitive against one of the nation's top programs.?
Josh Cooperwood turned in a very impressive offensive performance in front of the more than 22,000 fans gathered in Rupp Arena. Cooperwood had a game-high 32 points, making 13-17 field goals, including 4-6 from 3-point range. Cooperwood turned in the effort with 14 coming in the second half followed by 18 in the final 20 minutes.
Junior guard Garret Richardson tallied 18 points, handed out four assists and also recorded four steals against the Wildcats.
However, the Wildcats used their talent and a big rebounding advantage to pull away in the second half. The Cats held a 52-21 advantage on the boards, 24 coming on the offensive end. UK outscored TSU 27-0 on second chance opportunities.
?We know rebounding is something that is definitely hurting us,? said Lewis. ?The guys are working hard, but a lot of it had to do with the size and strength of Kentucky.?
Guard Keith Brogans led the Wildcats (7-3) with 26 points, 19 coming in the second half. Center Marquis Estill had a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
TSU finished the game connecting on 34-65 from the field for 52 percent. TSU committed 22 turnovers, one more than the ?Cats.
The Tigers will hope to benefit from the back-to-back games against UK and Ohio State. TSU will host Morehead State Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Gentry Center in the Ohio Valley Conference opener.