There are routs and then there are routs that would make even John Short blush; tonight was definitely the latter. Kentucky beat Asbury 156-63 tonight in their second exhibition game at Rupp, and no, that’s not a typo. The Cats scored 156 points, the most in a single game in Kentucky basketball history, exhibition or regular season. It was that ridiculous.
Let’s end the weekend on a good note and break it down, shall we?
1. Monk was back in the starting lineup
John Calipari caught everyone off guard in Kentucky’s first exhibition when he started Wenyen Gabriel over Malik Monk, but Monk was back in the starting five tonight, alongside De’Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, and Derek Willis. As I’ll show you later, Monk did a lot of crazy things tonight.
2. Kentucky had 88 points in the first half
To put tonight’s rout in perspective, the Cats were ahead 88 to 25 — AT HALFTIME. It sounds ridiculous considering the margin, but Asbury fought hard throughout, scoring the first bucket of the game and trying their hardest to nip at Kentucky’s heels, but as they say, sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. The Eagles found themselves smeared all over Kentucky’s windshield tonight, but at least they’ll go home with a $20,000 check and plenty of stories to tell their grandchildren about how Kentucky hung 93 on them at Rupp Arena.
3. De’Aaron Fox dominated the first half
In routs like this, pinpointing one star seems a bit pointless, but De’Aaron Fox quickly asserted himself, scoring nine points in the first five and a half minutes. Fox finished with 25 points (11-14), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and only 1 turnover in 17 minutes of play. Towards the end of the first half, he had 19 points, the same as the entire Asbury squad.
4. Everyone scored
You know it’s a good night when everyone on the team ends up on the stat sheet. Tai Wynyard and Brad Calipari went in during the first half, finishing with ten and five points, and even Jonny David and Dillon Pulliam got in on the fun, scoring three and four points respectively. No Cat played more than 20 minutes and no one played less than seven. In the second half, Calipari let the subs start, keeping De’Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo on the bench until his team crossed the century mark. As the kids would say, everyone ate.
5. Kentucky had 29 dunks
As Kentucky fans, we use the term “dunk fest” a lot, but tonight’s game was literally just that, with the Cats throwing down 29 dunks according to Kyle Tucker’s count. Malik Monk accounted for quite a few of those, including this SportsCenter Top 10 contender:
Monk had at least two more that were almost as ridiculous as that. I took on the task of recording UK’s highlights tonight, and by midway through the first half, I was exhausted. #BBNProblems
6. Asbury tried to speed Kentucky up and it backfired
You have to hand it to Asbury; they came in with a plan, and stuck to it throughout; unfortunately, that plan was to run with Kentucky, which ended up being a horrible idea. Afterwards, John Calipari said he’s only had one other team try to run with him during his tenure at Kentucky, and that was Indiana during the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
“We have had one team do that to us in my time here and that was Indiana in the NCAA Tournament and I think we won by 10 or 12 or 14 whatever it was. That said we’re speeding them up the whole game, see if they can stay with us. So this is like the second team that just said just keep playing that way,” Cal said. “On the other side, that’s why we scored so many points.”
“But if you stretch us out, I don’t care who you are, if the court is stretched against us, whether you’re trying to slow us down, a stretched court speeds us up,” Cal added later.
Please try to run with us, college basketball.
7. Calipari thinks his rotation be 8-9 guys
Calipari straight up admitted that he didn’t bother installing offensive sets tonight and just let his players do their thing. One thing he did tinker with tonight was the rotation.
“I would say we’re probably going to be playing eight to nine guys,” Cal said on his postgame radio show. “If you look at what I saw with Bam [Adebayo], you better come with a motor to take his minutes or he’s going to play every minute he can play.”
Even though he started Derek Willis, Calipari said he was impressed by how well Wenyen Gabriel played and could envision using him as a three or a stretch four.
“I tried to do some stuff with Wenyen because I told Derek, Derek, I know who you are, I need to keep learning about this kid which is why I played him more,” Cal said of the versatile freshmen.
8. Mychal Mulder became an internet superstar
In a pun that should make all “X-Files” fans happy, if the first half belonged to Fox, the second belonged to Mulder. Mychal Mulder finished with 20 points off 8-13 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. We’ve heard stories about how Mulder’s dominating in practice, and after a quiet night in UK’s first exhibition last week, he took over the second half. In the final minute of Kentucky’s win, Mulder got the crowd and the bench on their feet with this dunk that made him an instant internet superstar:
The bench’s reaction was priceless:
Mychal Mulder with the cherry on top pic.twitter.com/WiZp4jqMHr
– Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) November 7, 2016
I mean, really, why did the Asbury guy bother jumping?
9. It’s about to get real
Ready for more basketball? You’re about to get a lot of it in the next few weeks. Starting with Friday’s season opener vs. Stephen F. Austin, Kentucky will play three games in five days, finishing up with Michigan State in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Cal’s giving his guys tomorrow off and then, it’s on.
“Well, I think they know, but I just told them, I said, we’re going to practice — we have off tomorrow, we’re practicing Tuesday, Wednesday. And we’re really going to get after it because Thursday I got to back up because we play three games in five days, including travel,” Cal said. “So, there are things we got to get done, and I think they know it. The things we’re doing in practice are bringing out that will to win.”
10. Calipari likes his team
Even though it sounded like he was battling a cold, Calipari’s swagger came through on his postgame radio show when he told Tom Leach and listeners that — wait for it — he likes his team.
“I really like my team. You would have to be crazy not to like them,” Cal said. “They’re great guys, they take care of business and they do what they do…and they can REALLY play.”
Yes, yes they can.