LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Top-ranked Kentucky gave up the first 11 points, still trailed at halftime and finally shook off a slow start to beat pesky Columbia 56-46 on Wednesday night.
In a college basketball season already marked by several big upsets, the Wildcats (10-0) got their toughest challenge yet from the Ivy League Lions. Columbia led for nearly 27 minutes before Aaron Harrison and the Wildcats took control.
Set to face North Carolina, UCLA and Louisville in their next three games, the Wildcats had trouble from the outset against Columbia (5-3). Coach John Calipari was forced to call a timeout as the Lions took an 11-0 lead.
The Wildcats clamped down on defense to make several stops in the second half and took the lead for good at 36-34 on Derek Willis' two free throws with 13:18 remaining.
Harrison scored 14 points and Willie Cauley-Stein added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky. Injured freshman guards Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker didn't play.
Maodo Lo scored a game-high 16 points for Columbia.
Kentucky used its size and strength to rally, and avoided adding its name to the list of recent surprises.
A month into the new season, Michigan lost to New Jersey Institute of Technology, defending NCAA champion Connecticut fell to Yale, Indiana was edged by Eastern Washington, Purdue lost to North Florida and Drexel was beaten by Philadelphia University of The Sciences.
Kentucky's sluggish performance for much of the game was a far cry from Sunday's drubbing of Eastern Kentucky, a game that showed no letdown after last week's big win over Texas.
Even after the Wildcats finally went ahead, the Lions were just a few possessions away from getting back in the game.
But while Columbia's hopes looked strong in the first half, its lead slowly slipped away behind 38 percent shooting.
But the gritty Lions certainly succeeded in making Kentucky work all night, especially in a first half that created angst among the 22,112 fans, if not the Wildcats. Columbia jumped out to a 14-3 lead and led 25-23 at halftime through good ball movement, quickness and especially 3-point shooting with Lo leading the way.
The Lions followed a 4-of-6 start from behind the arc by missing six of their final seven in the half, but that was far better than the Wildcats' 1-for-7 showing as they were outshot 38 percent to 33 percent. Most importantly, Columbia had the tempo it wanted.
Columbia: The Lions fell to 4-12 against the SEC and hasn't beaten a league team since Auburn in the 1957-58 season.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have held nine of 10 opponents to season lows in scoring.
Columbia: Hosts Hofstra on Dec. 20.
Kentucky: Hosts North Carolina on Saturday.