Kentucky begins its Bahamas tour with a win

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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.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.