Rasir Bolton scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half to help No. 2 Gonzaga post an 88-72 victory over visiting No. 4 Kentucky on Sunday night at Spokane, Wash.
Drew Timme added 22 points and Julian Strawther had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Gonzaga (3-1). Anton Watson added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who never trailed.
Reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe had 20 points and 15 rebounds for Kentucky (3-2). Jacob Toppin scored 16 points, Cason Wallace had 14 points and four steals and Antonio Reeves scored 10 off the bench for the Wildcats.
The contest was the first of a six-game series between the two powerhouse programs.
Gonzaga shot 56.4 percent from the field, including 7 of 19 from 3-point range. Bolton made four treys for the Bulldogs, who held a 39-29 rebounding advantage and had a 44-24 edge in points in the paint.
The Wildcats made 39.1 percent of their shots and were 6 of 25 from behind the arc.
Kentucky trailed by 16 points at the break but started the second half with a 20-8 run to pull within 49-45 on a 3-pointer by Reeves with 13:07 left.
The margin was six just past the midway point of the half before Strawther scored the final five points of a 7-0 run to boost Gonzaga’s lead to 68-55 with 8:49 remaining.
Toppin scored two straight baskets as Kentucky crept within 76-67 with 3:53 left.
Bolton swished a 3-pointer to make it 81-69 with 2:24 to play. He added two free throws with 1:25 left, Watson followed with a layup with 55 seconds to play and Bolton buried another 3-pointer with 14.6 seconds remaining as the Bulldogs closed it out.
Strawther had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first half as Gonzaga led 41-25. Tshiebwe had 14 points and seven rebounds in the half for Kentucky.
The Bulldogs scored the first eight points of the game and took a 19-6 lead on Strawther’s 3-pointer with 12:44 left in the half.
A basket by Tshiebwe pulled the Wildcats within 27-19 with 6:15 left but Gonzaga responded with a 12-2 run to take an 18-point lead.
The Bulldogs shot 55.2 percent from the field in the opening half. Kentucky hit just 8 of 32 shots (25 percent) and missed all 10 3-point attempts.
–Field Level Media