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Morris powers Kentucky over DePaul in Maui

Nov 21, 2006 - 4:16 AM MAUI, Hawaii (Ticker) -- Randolph Morris is turning into the dominating presence Kentucky fans have been expecting.

Morris scored 20 points to lead the 22nd-ranked Wildcats to an 87-81 victory over DePaul in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

A 6-11, 265-pound junior center, Morris scored 16 points in the second half, including four in a 6-0 run that gave Kentucky an 80-69 lead with 2:43 to play.

The Wildcats still had to hold off a late charge by the Blue Demons, who repeatedly came back from double-digit deficits.

Sammy Mejia scored 17 points and led a 6-0 spurt that pulled DePaul (1-3) within 82-77 with 1:22 left.

DePaul was forced to foul from there, and Kentucky made 5-of-6 free throws - three by Morris - to wrap up the win.

A tight ending seemed unlikely after the Wildcats opened the game with a 10-0 burst. Jodie Meeks' 3-pointer with 8:53 remaining in the first half made it 33-21, but the Blue Demons closed to 43-38 at the break.

DePaul eventually went ahead by a point twice in the second half, but Kentucky rallied to go ahead by eight before Marcus Heard buried a 3-pointer for DePaul to cut it to 74-69 with 4:43 remaining.

Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford scored 14 points apiece for the Wildcats (3-0), who shot 55 percent (34-of-62) from the field. Kentucky will play UCLA on Tuesday.

Wilson Chandler also scored 17 points for DePaul, which shot 57 percent (32-of-56).

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