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Bradley ignites Kentucky to easy win

Nov 18, 2006 - 2:15 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Ramel Bradley was not about to let Kentucky get off to a sluggish start again.

Bradley scored seven points in a game-opening 15-0 run as the 22nd-ranked Wildcats rolled to a 79-56 victory over Mississippi Valley State in the first meeting between the schools.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith expressed displeasure with his team's slow start in a season-opening 57-46 win over Miami of Ohio on Wednesday. The Wildcats (2-0) needed a 10-0 run in the second half to rally for the victory.

This time, Kentucky settled matters rather quickly. Bradley hit the first of his five 3-pointer 18 seconds into the game and also hit a jumper and a layup as the Wildcats raced to a 15-0 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes.

"I think it was good that we opened up in a press and capitalized off of it," said Bradley, who finished with a career-high 21 points. "If we open up like that every game and get a big lead, I'll be fine with that."

"I thought we were really focused from the start and had our game face on," said Smith, who coached his 500th career game and improved to 367-133.

Larry Cox hit the first basket of the game for Mississippi Valley State (0-3) with 15:24 left in the first half.

"Obviously, I was trying to figure out who scheduled that game after the first five minutes," Mississippi Valley State coach James Green said. "They did a great job."

Freshman Jodie Meeks connected on a 3-pointer 20 seconds after Cox scored to give Kentucky an 18-2 advantage.

The Wildcats continued to pull away and built the lead to 41-15 on a 3-pointer by freshman Derrick Jasper with 28 seconds left in the half.

Mississippi Valley State shot just 27 percent (7-of-26) in the first half and committed 15 turnovers.

Bradley started the second half with a 3-pointer as Kentucky went on a 13-2 run to open its biggest lead at 54-20.

The Delta Devils responded with a 15-3 spurt as Cox and Darius Simmons scored six points apiece

Bradley's last 3-pointer of the game increased the Wildcats' lead to 64-41 with 8:26 left.

Bradley made 8-of-11 shots, including 5-of-7 from the arc. Randolph Morris also converted 8-of-11 shots and collected 18 points and nine rebounds.

Cox led the Delta Devils with 17 points and Darius Simmons added 16.

"It was a good experience for us to play here as a team coming out of the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference)," Simmons said. "I had never played in an SEC arena before. It's a good atmosphere."

Kentucky will head to Hawaii for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, where it will play DePaul on Monday. The Wildcats may get a second-round matchup against UCLA, which lost in the national championship game to Florida last season.

"We have a tough trip ahead of us to Maui and the tournament," Smith said. "DePaul is a real challenge. Playing five games in eight days is a tall order and a challenge, but hopefully our guys will be ready to play."

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