Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points to help Kentucky hold off Buffalo 95-75 Saturday afternoon in a second-round NCAA Tournament South Region game in Boise, Idaho.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats (26-10) led by only five points with just over eight minutes left in the game before closing out the game on a 23-8 run. With the win, they advanced to the tourney’s Sweet 16 for the 43rd time in 57 appearances. Their next game is Thursday night in Atlanta against ninth-seeded Kansas State or 16th-seeded Maryland-Baltimore County.
Gilgeous-Alexander shot 10 of 12 from the field in outdueling Buffalo guard Wes Clark, who led 13th-seeded Buffalo (27-9) with 26 points. Guard Hamidou Diallo scored 22 points for Kentucky.
Guard CJ Massinburg scored 18 points for the Bulls, who upset fourth-seeded Arizona in the first round.
Much as in the first half, Kentucky led throughout the second but Buffalo remained within striking distance. The Bulls were down 72-67 with 8:10 left before the Wildcats jumped to an 80-67 edge with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes.
The Bulls fell behind 84-69 with under four minutes left and 86-71 with three minutes remaining.
The Wildcats saw an 11-point cushion midway through the first half cut down to 32-27 but jumped back out to a 51-38 advantage before the Bulls scored the last four points of the period. Kentucky was on top 51-42 at the break.
Gilgeous-Alexander had 17 of his points in the first half on perfect shooting, making all six of his field-goal attempts, including a 3-pointer.
Clark, who had lost four times to Kentucky in his two seasons at Missouri before transferring to Buffalo, had 13 points in the first half.
While the Wildcats shot 56.3 percent for the game after missing 13 of their first 19 shots, the Bulls made just 38.6 percent from the floor overall.
—Field Level Media