National Basketball Association
Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44
When: 7:10 PM ET, Thursday, March 21, 2019
Where: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida
Officials: # John Gaffney, # Earl Walton, # Paul Faia
Attendance: 13495

Freshman guard Keldon Johnson poured in 25 points in his first NCAA Tournament game, and second-seeded Kentucky pounded 15th-seeded Abilene Christian 79-44 in a Midwest Region game Thursday night at Jacksonville, Fla.

Kentucky played without team scoring and rebounding leader PJ Washington, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who had his left foot in a cast from an injury sustained in last week's Southeastern Conference tournament.

Johnson made 10 of 16 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.

Kentucky's Reid Travis, a graduate transfer from Stanford in his first NCAA Tournament game, racked up 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and freshman Tyler Herro added 14 points.

Kentucky (28-6) plays in the second round Saturday against seventh-seeded Wofford, which defeated No. 10 Seton Hall 84-68 Thursday. Kentucky has won its NCAA Tournament opener in 25 of its past 26 appearances in the event.

These were two teams using the same nickname, but there was a big difference between the groups of Wildcats.

The first NCAA Tournament appearance for Abilene Christian (27-7) didn't go well. The team that made 38.8 percent of its 3-point attempts entering the tournament had a tough time finding a shooting stroke Thursday, going 5 of 23, 21.7 percent, from long range.

Jaren Lewis scored 17 points for Abilene Christian. Lewis shot 7 of 12 from the field, while the rest of his teammates were a combined 10 of 41. Lewis also had five of the team's 17 rebounds.

Kentucky opened a 13-3 lead in less than six minutes, then scored the final 11 points of the half for a 39-13 lead at the break.

Abilene Christian, which qualified by winning the Southland Conference tournament, didn't have a field goal in the final 5:49 of the opening half. It made 19.1 percent of its shots in the first half.

Kentucky hit at 60 percent from the field in the first half and held a 23-10 rebounding advantage at the game's midway mark.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
Abilene Christian   Kentucky
Jaren Lewis 17 Scoring Keldon Johnson 25
Jaylen Franklin 3 Assists Ashton Hagans 4
Jaren Lewis 5 Rebounds EJ Montgomery 11
Jaren Lewis 2 Free Throws Made Jemarl Baker Jr. 4
Payten Ricks 3 Steals Tyler Herro 2
Jaren Lewis 2 Blocks Nick Richards 1
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Abilene Christian 44 32.1 5-23 5-10 9 17 3 9 10
Kentucky 79 53.6 4-14 15-19 10 44 1 5 12