Willie Cauley-Stein had 15 points, eight rebounds and a career-high nine blocks to lead No. 3 Kentucky to a 79-65 victory over Providence on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
James Young scored 18 points and Aaron Harrison added 15 for the Wildcats (7-1), who shot 64.3 percent from the field (27 of 42) and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
Bryce Cotton had 23 points for the Friars (7-2), who finished 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) from 3-point range. They came into the game shooting just 29.4 percent from beyond the arc and were averaging only five 3s per game.
Kentucky, which had the majority of the crowd of 8,086 cheering for it, also had an exceptional game from 3-point range. The Wildcats were 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, decidedly better than the 28.9 percent they were shooting from there entering the game.
Julius Randle, the highest profile of the eight-man freshman class at Kentucky, scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. He had a double-double in each of his seven games this season tying Jim Andrews in 1971-72 for the most by a Kentucky player at the start of a season. That streak is over.
The Wildcats finished with 11 blocks with Cauley-Stein doing most of the rejecting. Providence continued to go inside but the bigger Wildcats made it a rough trip and the Friars kept firing from long range.
Cauley-Stein was 7 of 8 from the field, while Harrison was 7 of 9 and Young 5 of 7 including going 3 of 4 from 3-point range for the Wildcats, whose only loss was as the No. 1 team in the nation to Michigan State, which moved up one spot to the top with the win.
This game started a December that will have the Wildcats face No. 18 Baylor, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 9 Louisville in addition to Boise State and Belmont.
Providence was without sophomore guard Kris Dunn who missed his second straight game with a right shoulder injury. No timetable has been set for his return. The Friars' only loss this season was to Maryland in the championship game of the Paradise Jam.
This was the second meeting between the schools and the first was played across the East River. Kentucky beat Providence 79-78 in the 1976 NIT at Madison Square Garden.