Kentucky’s second game of a six-game exhibition tour in the Bahamas was supposed to be a bit of a test as they faced French professional team Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket on Monday, but the loaded Wildcats showed some terrifying upside in an 81-58 win.
Playing against a team with seven former Division I players, Kentucky showed how deep and talented they are despite missing junior starting center Willie Cauley-Stein and talented freshman forward Trey Lyles. Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns may be projected to come off the bench with the return of Cauley-Stein and sophomore Dakari Johnson but with the way he played on Monday, that’s tough to imagine. Towns had 19 points and 10 rebounds in only 21 minutes as he showed off his production and skill inside.
Good luck keep Towns off the floor for a long time with the ability he is showing since the spring. Towns is simply too big and too talented to leave on the bench, not only as a productive scorer and rebounder but a good interior passer.
Junior Alex Poythress also added 16 points and eight rebounds and Johnson had 10 points and four rebounds. The Harrison twins played good overall floor games as well for Kentucky while freshmen Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis each showed flashes of strong play as well. One of the biggest surprises for Kentucky was the play of sophomore guard Dominique Hawkins, who looks more confident on the offensive end of the floor so far on this tour.
Obviously, this is only an exhibition tour, but this Kentucky group seems far more cohesive and also deeper than last year’s team that made the title game before falling to UConn.
It’s a long season against a lot of good opponents, but Kentucky’s 2014-15 season is off to a positive start.