COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Kentucky knows what it's like to lose. This one hurt a lot more.
The Wildcats forced a season-high three turnovers and allowed a season-low 273 yards, but fumbles and three turnovers of their own led to a 33-10 loss at Missouri on Saturday.
"We basically gave them the game, really," tailback Raymond Sanders said.
Kentucky (1-8, 0-6 SEC) started the second half trailing 17-10 with two consecutive interceptions by J.D. Harmon in Missouri territory, but two three-and-outs prevented them from scoring after either.
"It's a game of not taking advantage of momentum," Wildcats coach Joker Phillips said. "We had the momentum in the first half at one point, and handed it back to them in the second half."
Harmon's first career interception gave Kentucky possession at the Missouri 33, but the Wildcats netted minus-12 yards with an offensive pass interference call before punting it back. Craig McIntosh, who made a 43-yard field goal in the first half, was wide right on a 47-yard attempt after Harmon's second pick near midfield.
The interceptions were Kentucky's first in five games.
"J.D.'s going to be a pretty good football player," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "He's like a lot of these youngsters, that once given the opportunity he steps up and plays pretty darn good."
Sanders scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter for Kentucky, which has lost seven in a row. Kentucky had plenty of success with cutback runs its first two drives, rolling up 115 yards, but finished with just 179 yards.
The Wildcats have 26 total freshmen who have played this year and are one of the youngest teams in the country. They're learning quickly, as the team played the most difficult schedule in the country through eight games, according to two of the components of the BCS standings.
"We've just got to go out and keep working and keep fighting through it," linebacker Avery Williamson said. "We have to win out these next three games. I thought we were going to come out with that win and it shocked me in the end that we didn't."
Missouri (4-4, 1-4) scored touchdowns off all three of Kentucky's lost fumbles and quarterback James Franklin presided over a strong finish in a reserve role coming off a knee injury as the Tigers earned a long-delayed first win in their debut SEC season.
The game was still up for grabs when Franklin got the call with Missouri leading 17-10 midway through the third quarter. The junior was a steadying influence although he was much better when he just handed it off.
Facing a third straight opponent coming off an open weekend, Phillips had prepared for Franklin to be there from the beginning.
"What surprised me was when he didn't go in to start the game," Phillips said. "That's what surprised me."
Kendial Lawrence ran for 108 yards on 23 carries with two TDs for Missouri, which overcame its own sloppiness, too, after getting last week off following a 32-point loss at home to top-ranked Alabama.
Marcus Murphy fumbled his first two punt-return attempts and Corbin Berkstresser was intercepted on consecutive passes by Harmon before getting replaced by Franklin, who was limited in practice this week after missing most of the previous two games with a strained left knee.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson ran 60 yards to the Kentucky 25 after stripping the ball from Jonathan George to set up the game's first touchdown. Zaviar Gooden recovered a fumble at the Kentucky 12 after Brad Madison and Will Ebner combined to sack Patrick Towles early in the fourth quarter to set up a 9-yard run by Murphy and E.J. Gaines skirted the sideline on a 13-yard return off Sanders' fumble for a 33-10 cushion with 8:45 to go.
Missouri totaled four fumbles in the first half but lost just one. Berkstresser fumbled twice but recovered both of them.
Freshman Dorial Green-Beckham caught two passes on the go-ahead drive, the first receptions for the nation's top recruit last winter since catching an 80-yard touchdown pass against Central Florida in Week 5.
NOTES: Country singer David Nail, bending as many notes as possible, sang the National Anthem. ... Sanders' 24-yard carry matched his longest of the season. ... Missouri has forced a turnover in 26 consecutive games. ... Kentucky CB Cody Quinn (hamstring) and Missouri CB Kip Edwards (strained neck) left with injuries in the second half.