In a game probably closer than expected, the 8th ranked Wildcats pulled away late to defeat the energetic Belmont Bruins tonight 71-55. Kentucky moves to 10-1 on the year, with just two more non-conference games left before the brutal stretch of SEC play awaits. Senior Azia Bishop responded well to starting the game on the bench, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, and notching her 5th career double-double with 15 and 12 apiece. She also chipped in with four blocks and three steals, so she was the all-around energy woman for UK.
Playing against a 2-6 team who lost by 60 points to Louisville, winning by 16 wasn’t necessarily what anyone, including me, expected, but Belmont came out firing and unafraid. The Cats seemed out of sorts on offense, not sure of who they wanted to give the ball to and when, and while they cleaned up their turnover miscues from last game with only 11, they only shot 41% for the game. The Bruins were able to break the fast court with their slinky, smaller guards and drive the to basket successfully against the Kentucky press.
Coach Cameron Newbauer from Belmont gained a few fans in Kentucky tonight as he brought in a team that was well coached and ready to play against the heavily-favored Wildcats. Still in his first coaching gig (after assistant coaching jobs at Louisville and Georgia), he was excited for the post-game press conference saying “I’ve only done like three of these.” He was also very complimentary of UK, calling them “arguably the most athletic team in the country from top to bottom,” and adding “what they do best, is they play to their strengths. They can come back from any score, because they can change the game in a matter of minutes.”
Kentucky is off this week for finals, but they return to action next Sunday in a nationally televised contest on the road in Durham against the 13th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Until then…