- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Kentucky’s Julius Randle started his big night with a few dunks, then made a boatload of free throws and capped it off with a difficult finish in the lane to seal the victory.

The 6-foot-9 freshman is turning into the consistent force the Wildcats hoped he would be. That could make them tough to beat as March approaches.

Randle scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season as No. 18 Kentucky beat Mississippi 84-70 on Tuesday night.

“We know we can do this,” Randle said. “We can do this every game. It’s about chemistry and having fun out there and today it showed.”

Aaron Harrison added 17 points and four assists for the Wildcats.

Kentucky (20-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) dominated throughout most of the game, going on a 15-0 run midway through the first half to take a 25-11 lead that proved insurmountable.

Kentucky was active in the paint and had several alley-oop dunks, jumping over the Rebels’ overmatched defense. The Wildcats had seven dunks in the first half alone.

It was an emphatic victory just days after one of Kentucky’s most disappointing setbacks this season - a 69-59 loss to Florida on Saturday at Rupp Arena.

“In the last eight years or so, after a loss, our teams have bounced back to win by an average of 17 points,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I challenged them to see how they would respond and they responded.”

Ole Miss (16-10, 7-6) lost its third straight game and has almost completely fallen out of the picture for an at-large NCAA tournament berth. The Rebels had a bad shooting night and were steamrolled on the boards.

Jarvis Summers led Ole Miss with 22 points and Anthony Perez added 21.

Kentucky had already beaten Ole Miss once this season, 80-64 on Feb. 4 at Rupp Arena. The Rebels kept that game fairly close until the end, but the Wildcats made sure this one was in hand quickly.

Randle had a double-double before halftime, with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Wildcats built a 42-25 lead. Kentucky shot 58.6 percent from the field in the first half, finishing on several high-percentage looks inside and shooting 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

Kentucky had a big lead for most of the second half until a late Ole Miss rally. The Rebels cut it to 76-70 with 1:48 remaining after Perez banked in a 3-pointer, but on Kentucky’s next possession Randle drove the lane and made a short jumper in traffic to stop the surge.

“Today says a lot about us,” Harrison said. “We knew this was going to be a big game and we knew Ole Miss would take a lot of 3-pointers. We knew they’d make shots, but we won, we won by double digits, no big deal.”

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