UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Kentucky starts three freshman and two sophomores, but relied on its lone senior Sunday to win the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.
Darius Miller came off the bench to score 13 points and hand out five assists as the No. 2 Wildcats outlasted Old Dominion 62-52 Sunday.
"We got out of here alive somehow, and the reason we got out of alive is because Darius played," Calipari said. "If he didn't play, we'd probably get beat by 10 or 12."
The Wildcats (4-0) used a 12-1 run late to extend a 50-49 lead, holding Old Dominion without a field goal for the last seven minutes of the game.
Chris Cooper had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Old Dominion (3-2). Trian Iliadis added 11 points and Kent Bazemore had 10 for the Monarchs, who were coming off a 68-66 overtime win against South Florida.
"I thought we belonged in this game," said ODU coach Blaine Taylor. "We thought we could play against this opponent and I think our kids did. I'm not really into moral victories, but I do think our kids gave a good account of ourselves and Old Dominion."
ODU took an early 18-11 lead behind the shooting and rebounding of Cooper, who had six points and four rebounds during that stretch, while Bazemore added seven points.
The deficit matched Kentucky's largest of the season. They also trailed Kansas by seven points in the first half on Tuesday.
After a timeout, Kentucky went on a 7-0 run to tie it. But Old Dominion would not go away. A steal and layup by Iliadis put ODU back up by five.
Miller, Kentucky's only senior, brought the Wildcats back, scoring seven points on a 9-0 run to close the half. Miller had nine points, topping his season high in the first 20 minutes, and Kentucky led 32-27 at halftime.
Calipari said Miller was the only Wildcat who had success penetrating the ODU zone defense.
"I just try to take what they give me," Miller said. "So I was just driving the gaps."
The Wildcats extended that to 40-31 after Doron Lamb was fouled after hitting a 3-point shot, and made the free throw.
Old Dominion went without a field goal for five minutes before Cooper powered into the lane with 10:23 left. But a basket by Wright brought the Monarchs back to within five at 46-41.
Trian Iliadis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close the gap to 50-49 with seven minutes remaining, while the Wildcats missed free throws on three consecutive 3-point play opportunities to help ODU hang around.
But Kidd-Gilchrist's layup began the run that put the game away and his dunk on an assist by Miller made it 60-49.
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was at the game to watch his Wildcats and freshman point guard Marquis Teague, who had another tough game. He had six turnovers to go with his six points and just two assists. For the season, Teague has 18 turnovers and just 11 assists.
"We're a good team," Calipari said "But we have a long way to go. And we want to be special, guys have got to start making incremental steps."
Lamb, who had 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Saturday's 85-47 win over Penn State, had eight points on Sunday.
Bazmore, who broke a bone in his left foot over the summer and had surgery in August, made his first start of the season for ODU. He had been coming off the bench as he allows the bone to heal.
Nick Wright, who served a three-game suspension to start the season, had nine points and six rebounds for the Monarchs.