At the half: Kentucky 44, Wake Forest 28

NEW ORLEANS – Kentucky turned on the jets to turn a close game into a 44-28 lead at the half Saturday against Wake Forest in second-round NCAA tournament action at New Orleans Arena.

The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the East, were at their best running and dunking as they pulled away, and 6-11 freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins was especially active.

But the entire complexion of the game changed after Wake Forest’s top player, sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu, picked up his third foul at the 11:39 mark of the first half. He went to the bench and didn’t return.

It wasn’t a smart foul by Aminu, who was called for a reach-in on a rebound.

The game was tied at 19 when he went to the bench, and the Deacons were never the same afterward. They failed to score on their next eight possessions.

The Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half, and sophomore guard Darius Miller was the catalyst. He was 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line for 16 points. Cousins also hit all four of his shots and had four rebounds.

If Wake Forest doesn't play well in the first five minutes of the second half, this one could get ugly in a hurry.