By GARY B. GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Kevin Knox scored 21 points, Hamidou Diallo added 20, including a big 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, and No. 8 Kentucky outlasted Virginia Tech 93-86 on Saturday for its most significant victory this season.
The Wildcats won their seventh straight and hit a season-high 11 3-pointers, with six players making at least one. Kentucky (9-1) finished 11 of 22 from behind the arc. Quade Green added 17 points with a pair of 3s while wearing shaded protective glasses after injuring his eye last week against Monmouth.
A back-and-forth game featuring 11 lead changes, eight ties and plenty of perimeter fireworks eventually swung Kentucky’s way down the stretch thanks to Knox and Diallo, whose 3-pointer with 4:54 left made it 78-71. Diallo’s free throw with 13 seconds left provided an eight-point edge and Knox’s two free throws five seconds later sealed the outcome.
Ahmed Hill had 20 points, Justin Robinson 19 and Kerry Blackshear 18 for Virginia Tech (8-2), which entered the game leading the nation in scoring (96.2 points). The Hokies shot 58 percent and 10 of 22 from long range but couldn’t keep up with Kentucky down the stretch.
Virginia Tech: The high-scoring Hokies maintained their fast pace throughout and didn’t flinch when trailing. Hill’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining kept them within reach, but they couldn’t stop the Wildcats down the stretch.
Kentucky: After missing first five shots, the Wildcats responded with a 9-0 run to lead, and did it again later for another edge. Though they seemed at times to be playing Virginia Tech’s pace, the ‘Cats set the tone when needed to regain the lead. Knox’s 11 points coming out of the break was critical in rallying Kentucky from a 47-41 halftime deficit. The Wildcats shot 48.5 percent and outrebounded the Hokies 33-30.
Virginia Tech hosts Presbyterian on Tuesday night.
Kentucky plays its third neutral-site, marquee game on Dec. 23 against UCLA in New Orleans. The schools split last season, with the Wildcats beating the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament.