LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Tyler Ulis scored 20 points, Derek Willis added a career-best 18 and No. 20 Kentucky used an early 20-0 run to blow past outmanned Missouri 88-54 on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (16-4, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) had it easy in improving to 9-0 against the Tigers and winning their third straight overall. Kentucky spotted the Tigers an opening layup by Wes Clark before the big spurt that quickly put the game out of reach, twice stretching its lead to 40 points in the second half.
Good shooting was the key again for Kentucky, which made 52 percent from the field after hitting 55 percent against Vanderbilt.
Willis also grabbed 12 rebounds for his second double-double in four games. Isaiah Briscoe had 15 points, Skal Labissiere 12 and Jamal Murray 11 to round out Kentucky’s double-figure scorers.
Clark had 11 points for Missouri (8-12, 1-6 SEC), which sustained its biggest loss this season.
Missouri landed its third commit in the Class of 2016, as power forward Reed Nikko announced his commitment on Monday night via Twitter.
“Couldn’t be happier to announce that I’m commiting to The University of Missouri for basketball,” he tweeted, attached with a thank you note to family, coaches and teammates.
Nikko, who attends Maple Grove Senior High in Minnesota, was in Columbia, on an official, visit this past weekend. He had scheduled an official visit to Kansas State scheduled this weekend, according to Rivals, which rates him as a three-star recruit.
The 6-foot-9 power forward joins small forward Willie Jackson and center Mitchell Smith in Kim Anderson’s current recruiting class.
Missouri received its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Saturday afternoon, as 6-foot-10 center Mitchell Smith has decided to play for Kim Anderson. Smith, a native of Arkansas, made the decision while on an official visit to Missouri and announced the news by way of his Twitter account.
Missouri will lose senior Ryan Rosburg at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the addition of Smith will help the Tigers account for that loss. Among the other programs considered by Smith Arkansas, Creighton, Memphis and Wichita State.
Smith, who was a first team All-Class 7A selection last season, played for the Arkansas Wings Elite grassroots program this spring/summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. He will join a front court that includes current underclassmen Jakeenan Gant, D’Angelo Allen and Kevin Puryear, and junior college transfer Russell Woods.
Video credit: Courtside Films
Having already lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season in Johnathan Wililams III to a transfer, Missouri will bid farewell to another player.
Sources told NBCSports.com that guard Montaque Gill-Caesar, who would have been a sophomore this upcoming season, has decided to leave Kim Anderson’s program. Gill-Caesar, who played for Missouri assistant Rob Fulford at Huntington Prep before making the move to Columbia, averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a freshman.
“We wish Montaque the best,” Anderson said in a release Wednesday afternoon. “In an evolving conversation this week, Montaque informed our program of his future plans. He intends to resume his education and playing career at a different institution.
“We will assist him in every way possible in that transition, pending the completion of academic obligations he committed to with our staff. Our program cannot thank Montaque and his family enough for being a part of the Mizzou Basketball Family.”
The 6-foot-6 Ontario native’s departure means that there will be minutes available at the shooting guard position. Fellow sophomore Namon Wright returns at the position, and the Tigers also have two shooting guards in their incoming freshman class in K.J. Walton and Cullen VanLeer.
With Gill-Caesar and Williams transferring and guard Keith Shamburger out of eligibility, Missouri will have to account for the loss of three of their top four scorers from last season’s nine-win team.
News of Gill-Caesar’s transfer was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Missouri basketball program picked up a late 2015 recruit on Friday night, as four-star shooting guard K.J. Walton committed to the Tigers. He was visiting the Mizzou campus this weekend.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com first reported the commitment. Jeff Borzello of ESPN also had the news.
Walton, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Brownsburg High (Indiana) is ranked No. 103 in the Rivals150. He joins a handful three-star commits in Missouri’s incoming class: point guard Terrence Phillips, shooting guards Cullen VanLeer and Martavian Payne and power forwards, Kevin Puryear and Russell Woods. Payne and Woods, both JUCO transfers, committed to Mizzou earlier this spring.
Walton takes the last scholarship Kim Anderson had for the 2015-16 season.
Kim Anderson’s first season as head coach at his alma mater hasn’t been a smooth one, and prior to Missouri’s game against Texas A&M Saturday the school announced that freshman guards Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright have been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team policy according to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Those two join classmate Tramaine Isabell as players who are currently being withheld from competition by Anderson.
Gill-Caesar, who played for Missouri assistant Rob Fulford at Huntington Prep, is third on the team in scoring with an average of 9.6 points per game, and Wright is averaging 5.5 points per contest for the 7-15 Tigers (1-8 SEC). Both players have made 13 starts this season.
How tough has this season been for Missouri? With today’s suspensions just four scholarship players have not needed to be disciplined by Anderson: guard Keith Shamburger and forwards Keanau Post, Ryan Rosburg and Johnathan Willliams III.