Well, that’s one way to bounce back from your first regular season loss in over a year.
No. 5 Kentucky jumped out early against Eastern Kentucky before coasting to a nice 88-67 win over Colonels on Wednesday. Senior Alex Poythress led the way with a strong 21-point, 13-rebound double-double, and Jamal Murray scored 16 points of his own.
Tyler Ulis also provided nine points and eight assists as he continues to get healthier following his elbow injury. Ulis’ night included this nice alley-oop pass to Marcus Lee.
Not everything was perfect on the Kentucky end. The Wildcats were pretty sloppy with the ball, turning it over 17 times. Skal Labissiere also continued to struggle with his play inside despite scoring. Those are a couple of things to watch overall as the season continues.
But still, a wire-to-wire win is a wire-to-wire win. This game was tied for a grand total of 18 seconds before Kentucky took the lead and went on to win, imposing its athleticism and physical strength on an inferior opponent. After what happened against UCLA last Thursday, it was nice to see this talented team do that again.
The Wildcats’ next game comes against a pretty pesky Bobby Hurley-coached Arizona State team Saturday. Remember, last season the Hurley-coached Buffalo Bulls took a lead into halftime at Rupp against Kentucky, so weird things have happened recently. He’s coaching a team right now that has shown an awful lot of toughness and mental fortitude in the way it has bounced back from a loss to Sacramento State to open the season, picking up wins over Texas A&M, Creighton, NC State and Belmont.
It’s the exact kind of team that coach John Calipari likely wants to see his team play right now as it continues to go through some issues getting guys to “fight” when the going gets tough. That’s going to make it fun to see how they react to that test Saturday, because it’s clear Hurley has a tough team in Tempe.