One of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith's concerns entering the Puerto Rico Shootout was his team's defense against the 3-pointer.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats eased those worries impressively Thursday, holding Colorado to 2-for-28 from beyond the arc in an opening-round 64-52 victory.
Early in the game, Smith and the 600 Kentucky fans who had made the trip to Puerto Rico had a lot to worry about. The Buffaloes led 11-2 2½ minutes into the game and Smith went from a man-to-man defense to a 1-2-2 matchup zone.
"They attacked us early with their quickness and that took us out of the man-to-man," he said. "We went to the zone to try to match up on the perimeter. We did a good job defensively inside and we were pretty good at contesting their outside shots as well."
Freshman Tayshaun Prince scored 15 points to lead Kentucky (4-0), which will play the winner of the game between No. 13 Xavier and Pittsburgh in Friday's semifinals.
Wayne Turner and Michael Bradley added 10 points each for the defending national champions who used defense and depth to stretch their winning streak to 17 games.
"Today was out first real test against exceptional athletes and a well-coached team," Smith said. "It was a very physical game and fatigue became a factor."
After Colorado's opening burst, the Wildcats went on a 24-2 run, with Prince scoring seven points, over the next 10½ minutes. They held Colorado (4-1) scoreless for a span of 7:52. The Buffaloes went 12 minutes without a field goal, missing 17 straight shots before Aki Thomas scored down low with 5:30 left.
Colorado scored the final five points of the half to get within 30-21 despite shooting just 22 percent (9-of-41), including 1-of-13 from 3-point range.
"We knew we were going to have our hands full but overall I'm pleased with our effort and toughness," olorado coach Ricardo Patton said. "We're normally a good shooting team, but today was one of those days we didn't put it in the hole."
Kentucky didn't shine from the outside either, going 1-for-12 from 3-point range, but it finished with a 57-40 rebound advantage.
The closest the Buffaloes got in the second half was 40-36 with 11:48 left on a drive by Nick Mohr, but Kentucky's defense again stiffened as the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run over the next 5:53.
Smith said he wanted Prince to create a little more on the offensive end and the 6-foot-8 guard did just that in the early run.
"I always feel better when I can make my first few shots," he said. "I like it when I can create out things out there."
Kenny Price led Colorado with 16 points, while Thomas added 12.
"Because of our guards we feel we're a good shooting team," said Price, who made both 3s for the Buffaloes but was just 2-for-12 from beyond the line. "They did a good job but it was just one of those nights."
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