NEW YORK (AP) John Calipari sounded like a typical college student. He can’t wait for finals to be over. He’s not thinking winter vacation, though. He’s thinking basketball. All basketball.
“I am so happy because Wednesday will be our last finals. I don’t have to worry about anything academically,” Calipari said after No. 6 Kentucky beat Hofstra 96-73 on Sunday.
“We’ll go 29 straight days, four-a-days. Nothing to worry about except basketball. Right now we got to get through Wednesday. They’re off tomorrow, get through these finals, but we just have a lot of work to do.”
Malik Monk scored 20 points, Isaiah Briscoe had 19 and Kentucky took control with a 26-3 run spanning halftime to beat the Pride in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at Barclays Center.
De’Aaron Fox had 15 points and Bam Adebayo added 14 for Kentucky (9-1). The Wildcats closed the first half on a 12-0 run and opened the second with a 14-3 spurt to go ahead 62-36 with 16 minutes to play.
“We came out. We were playing good defense. The other team was making shots,” Briscoe said. “We kept calm knowing sooner or later we’ll get into their legs and they’ll start to get tired and we’ll make our run. Right before halftime we did that.”
The Pride (6-5), who came in having won four of five, stayed with the Wildcats for 16 minutes, trailing 36-33 with 4 minutes left in the first half. Deron Powers had 18 points for Hofstra in the first meeting between the schools.
“When I walked off the floor to locker room, I said to my staff that I’d love to have the last 3 minutes of the first half back,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. “The last three minutes of the first half and the first 4 minutes of the second half was a 26-3 run and that was the difference in the game.”
Monk had seven of the points in the 12-0 run and Adebayo had six in the 14-3 run. Kentucky started dominating inside, finishing with a 48-28 advantage in the paint, and on the perimeter, shooting 51.4 percent overall and 8 of 23 from 3-point range.
“This team has a long way to go. We’re young. We show it. We’re talented,” Calipari said. “We do some good things in stretches and then we do some bad things in stretches. We need to get in the gym and we need to get to the camp part of our season which is two- and three-a-days. They get time to sleep, to eat, we’ll give video time, phone time. They’ve got to have that or they’ll climb walls, but the reality of it is let’s get down to getting better.”
Justin Wright-Foreman had 14 points for Hofstra and Rokas Gustys added 13.
When the coaches shook hands after the game, Mihalich told Calipari he thinks Kentucky can win it all.
Hofstra: This game would have been a better matchup last season for the Pride. They had a senior-laden lineup that won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title. … Gustys came into the game leading the nation in rebounding at 13.5 per game. He had eight against the Wildcats. … The Pride finished with 14 turnovers. They came in averaging 12.3 per game and Kentucky came in forcing 18.9 per game. The Wildcats scored 23 points off Hofstra’s turnovers.
Kentucky: The Wildcats came into the game averaging 13.5 seconds per possession, fourth-best in the country. … Monk has scored in double figures in all 10 games. … The Wildcats are 3-1 all-time at Barclays Center. … Through nine game Monk is on pace to beat Jamal Meeks’ season mark for 3-pointers and Fox is on pace to beat Tyler Ulis’ season mark for assists.
As usual, Kentucky fans were in the majority in a game played in the New York area. The crowd was announced at 7,514 and a good percentage wore Kentucky blue.
The one stat that went Hofstra’s way was second-chance points. The Pride finished with a 24-7 advantage on second-chance points and they finished with 19 offensive rebounds, seven more than Kentucky.
Hofstra: The Pride host Stony Brook on Tuesday.
Kentucky: The Wildcats change course in quality of opponents the next two games. On Saturday, they face No. 7 North Carolina in Las Vegas and then travel to No. 11 Louisville on Dec. 21.
“The games that we’re going to start playing are all going to be seven-, eight-point games,” Calipari said. “So they’re not going to be 30-point games where you could break off. Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl.”