Outhustled on both ends by the athletic Redbirds through 20 minutes while adjusting to playing without injured starting point guard Tyler Ulis (elbow), the Wildcats (7-0) emerged from halftime more physical and used that energy to gain some breathing room.
Outrebounded 20-12 in the first half, Kentucky beat Illinois State (3-5) 27-17 on the boards and held the Redbirds to 29 percent shooting in the second half.
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell scored 22 points for the Redbirds.
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter's Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.