Kentucky opened defense of its national title and had to work hard to pull out the victory with a new group of freshmen in action.
Kyle Wiltjer led the Wildcats with 19 points and six rebounds while Archie Goodwin scored 16 for Kentucky.
Maryland closed within one with 8 seconds remaining when Alex Len grabbed his own rebound off a missed free throw and scored on a layup.
Wiltjer was immediately fouled and his two free throws created the final score. Kentucky then applied heavy pressure to keep Maryland from getting off the 3-point shot needed to tie the game.
Len scored 23 points to lead Maryland.
Kentucky led by as many as 15 early in the second half before Maryland went on a 15-0 run to get back in the contest.