Isaiah Briscoe scored 18 points, Jamal Murray added 16 and No. 1 Kentucky overcame a sluggish first half to pull away from Illinois State 75-63 on Monday night.
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.
Marcus Lee added 13 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double in five games while Alex Poythress had 11 points for Kentucky, which shot 43 percent.
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell scored 22 points for the Redbirds.