A national audience got its first glimpse of Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. In the first exhibition game of the Big Blue Bahamas Tour, the Wildcats defeated the Puerto Rico National Team reserves, 74-49.
In the first half the two teams traded the lead on multiple occasions. But Kentucky used a 10-2 run to take a 38-31 lead into halftime. From there, Kentucky — with a team of 11 freshmen and sophomores — wore down the Puerto Rico with its depth. Kentucky head coach John Calipari was using hockey-like substitutions. The starting five of the Harrison twins, Devin Booker, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson was spelled by the unit of Tyler Ulis, Dominique Hawkins, Karl Towns, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis. That talent and depth is amazing when you consider both Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles are sitting out this trip.
Aaron Harrison led the Wildcats with 15 points of 6-of-10 shooting. Poythress stood out, as well, earning high praise from Coach Cal afterwards. Poythress added 10 points while he was also factor in the paint with six rebounds and contesting shots at the rim. He logged the most minutes on Sunday with 22. Ulis, the 5-foot-9 freshman point guard, also had a notable outing. He was a pest defensively, causing problems for the Puerto Rico ballhandlers.
Kentucky managed to cut down on the turnovers in the second half, by that was aided by the Puerto Rico reserves, who played dialed back the effort for most of the half. Another issue from the first half was foul trouble for Towns, who picked up three in less than seven minutes. Towns did manage to score 10 points and grab seven boards.
It wan’t a perfect overall performance, but the result was a 25-point win.
Kentucky will face a better team on Monday afternoon, as the second of six exhibition games on this tour will be against Champagne Chalons-Reims from France. That game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.