It was a Felidae family affair when the Wildcats (Felinae) hosted the Leopards (Pantherinae) in Kentucky’s regular season home opener in Rupp Arena Friday night. (#shoutout to my 6th grade Life Science teacher!) The Wildcats dominated from start to finish, led by Kyle Wiltjer’s 23 points and another 22 from Alex Poythress. Julius Mays contributed to the scoring output with a quiet but impressive 10 assists from his combo-guard position.
If you’re here reading this on a Friday night, we applaud your dedication and devotion to KentuckySportsRadio.com. If you’re not here reading this, then this entire sentence is meaningless. Now I’m just rambling. Let’s get to it.
Kentucky moved to 2-1 on the 2012-13 basketball season with a 101 – 49 win over the Patriot League’s Lafayette College in the second of four Barclays Center Classic games. It was the first ever meeting between the two schools and the first time Lafayette has faced a ranked opponent since losing at Villanova, 86-41, in 2010. The Leopards came out rather hot to start the game but Kentucky was doing too much scoring of its own on the other end for it to matter. Kentucky played its best offensive game of the young season, which included a 39-2 run in the second half, and poured it on Lafayette throughout the entire contest.
Kyle Wiltjer led the way for Kentucky with a Tayshaun Prince-esque performance from beyond the arc. He scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, including a career-high seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts. After Tuesday night’s loss to Duke, Calipari said Kyle will need to find a way to get open and make shots or he’ll find the bench. It looks like he got the message. Wiltjer moved well without the ball, fought through screens, and found gaps in the defense, and it was all buckets from there. Goggles up.
Not far behind Kyle Wiltjer on the scoring list is Alex Poythress with 22 points. Poythress, again, showed what a beast he can be when he sets his mind to it. The freshman from Clarksville played with aggression on both ends and used his advantage in size and athleticism against the smaller Lafayette defenders to have his way with the competition. He finished the game with an outstanding 9-of-10 shooting performance, because, well, no one could stop him. He was a man playing in a co-ed youth league. If Kentucky is going to get where we all want them to go, Alex Poythress The Man will have to continue to show up. We’ve seen him two games in a row now.
You and I may think Poythress has been an unstoppable force in Kentucky’s last two games, but his coach still expects much more. Coach Cal said after the game that he still thinks Alex is only going hard 60% of the time. “I want him to be the best version of him,” Cal said in the press conference. “Not just playing good.”
If 22 points is “playing good,” I don’t know if I’m ready to see what 100% Poythress can do. I’m kind of scared, actually.
One guy who’s not being questioned about his effort is Nerlens Noel. The nation’s top-rated freshman leaves it all out on the court and then some. Noel filled up the stat sheet tonight with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block (although I’m certain he had more than one.) After the game, Calipari said he told the other players to do what Nerlens is doing. “Give (Nerlens) a hand,” he told his guys. “It’s embarrassing when they’re jogging and he’s the one diving on the ground.”
Maybe it’s the Celtics hat…
(via Carolina Hall)
Lafayette was doomed from the start when starting center Dan Trist went down to injury during the team’s shootaround prior to the game. The 6-foot-9 sophomore scored 30 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field last time out in Lafayette’s overtime win against LIU-Brooklyn. When it was announced that he would sit, the game was over. Well, actually, it was over when it was announced that Lafayette would play Kentucky. But losing Trist only made it uglier.
The Cats were without Ryan Harrow again tonight and UK officially lists Harrow as day-to-day. I’ll let you all do the speculating.
Both teams came into this one on the wrong end of the rebounding margin (Lafayette -9, Kentucky -8.5) so far this season, so one team had to win the battle of the boards. Tonight, as expected, Kentucky controlled the glass, but not by much. The Cats out-rebounded Lafayette 31-27, leaving room to improve in the next game.
Julius Mays had a great night distributing the ball with 10 assists and 0 turnovers. Calipari noted that a lot of Mays’ assists came from kicking the ball out to the red hot Kyle Wiltjer. Still a great night from the old man.
Archie, Archie, Archie, what are we going to do with you? One minute he is throwing down one of the nastiest dunks you’ll ever see; the next minute he’s losing the ball off his knee and walking back on defense. The hustle and attitude will come in time, so right now we’ll just focus on his incredible ability to get to the basket whenever he wants. Goodwin finished with 13 points and led the team in furious yells from Calipari for the third game this season. He’s so good, though. Only four other UK freshmen have scored in double-digits in their first three games under Calipari: Wall, Knight, Jones and Lamb.
Can someone go check on Willie Cauley-Stein? I’m told he’s still at Rupp Arena, dunking the basketball on smaller Lafayette players. Cauley-Stein had his first double-figure scoring night as a Wildcat with 14 points. At least 10 of those came from dunks.
The lob to Jon Hood needs some work. I like where it’s going, though. Hood grabbed two rebounds in a solid 11 minutes of action. We also finally saw Twany Beckham for his first four minutes of the season and Tod Lanter got his first real action as a Wildcat. Good to see everyone getting involved.
Nerlens on Kyle Wiltjer: “He’s an assassin. He’s a sniper.”
That’ll do it for now. We’ll have more tomorrow as the Samford football game approaches.
I’ll leave you with the picture of Rick Bozich on press row, because KSR Live blog commenters always get what they want. I’m just a pawn in Winston and Carruth’s Entourage’s live blog game of life.