Kentucky won the first four games of the Big Blue Bahamas Tour by an average margin of 24 points. On Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats struggled, but eventually prevailed in the tightest game of their eight-day stay in the Bahamas, with a 77-72 win over Champagne Chalons-Reims from France.
The Wildcats were clinging to a one-possession lead for the final minutes of the game. Kentucky had a chance to extend the lead, but Andrew Harrison’s alley-oop pass to Dakari Johnson was deflected, followed by a missed layup by Johnson with 90 seconds left.
Tyler Ulis, who has been pressing opposing ball handlers all week long, forced a turnover, which led to his breakaway layup with 1:06 remaining. The hustle play earned a standing ovation from John Calipari, who was once again sitting in the top row of the Sir Kendal Isaac Gym, as Barry ‘Slice’ Rohrssen took over head coaching duties on Saturday. That play made it a two-possession game, and would serve as the last bucket of the afternoon, as Charlons-Reims failed to convert on several opportunities in the final minute.
The 5-foot-9 freshman point guard was out the on the floor with both of the Harrison twins. This is worth noting because while Kentucky has plenty of talented big man, a lineup which includes Ulis and the Harrison twins will likely been seen this season.
Saturday marked the first time Kentucky trailed at halftime, with Champagne Chalons-Reims taking a 44-43 lead into the break. The Wildcats defensive intensity was lacking, as Charlons-Reims were able to getting easy looks through the first 20 minutes. Charlons-Reims connected on 19 of its 26 (73 percent) first half attempts.
Kentucky defeated Charlons-Reims 81-58 in the second game of this tour. The Wildcats finish this tour on Sunday against the Dominican Republic, a team that Kentucky defeated by 13 on Friday afternoon. The sixth and final game tips at 1 p.m.