John Calipari got his wish – and then some.
After lackluster start during an exhibition win last Wednesday, the Kentucky coach tweaked his starting lineup to add freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – perhaps their best defender – to the mix in hopes of a better start. The result was a score that can hardly be believed: 125-40
Yes, the rout was vs. D-II school Morehouse College, but the sheer overwhelming numbers are impossible to overlook. Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal provides an excellent rundown:
The Wildcats obliged, breaking open a 30-point lead in just seven minutes, a 41-point lead after only 12 minutes and taking a staggering, 74-13 edge into halftime. At that point, UK was shooting 75 percent from the field, had 11 steals and had held the Maroon Tigers, an overmatched and overwhelmed Division II team, to 16.7 percent shooting.
The 74 first-half points are the most since the 1996 national championship team dropped 86 in the first 20 minutes of a game against LSU.
UK scored 29 unanswered points at one point in the first half and led by as many as 89 in the second half.
Even the most rabid Kentucky fans don’t expect a performance to match this during the season. Kidding. Some of them will, starting with Friday’s opener vs. Marist.
But it’s important to note just how scary that Wildcats defense can be – their top six guys are all long and athletic – when it’s motivated. And this seems to be a squad that responds well to Calipari’s tactics.
As an added bonus, the result didn’t go unnoticed by 2012’s top recruit:
When Shabazz Muhammad is blown away, it’s safe to say every other recruit is as well. Not a bad night for Kentucky. Not bad at all.
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