On a chilly, rainy Friday evening, the 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats opened their season with an exhibition game against their Broadway neighbor, Transylvania University. It was Cats versus Bats in front of a moderate crowd of 19,927. While most fans anticipated Kentucky to look pretty sharp since they finally had the chance to play against someone other than themselves, there were certainly stretches of sloppy play, providing Coach John Calipari with a lot of teaching moments.
The late C.M. Newton was honored before the game. Newton spent 12 years as the head coach at Transylvania (3 different stints over a 17-year period) and later became the Athletics Director at UK.
— Cameron Mills Show (@cameronradio) October 26, 2018
Calipari decided to press the entire game, not to generate turnovers or pad stats but to condition his players. Right now, it appears most of the players can sustain this pace for 3-4 minutes at a stretch before their quality of play suffers. While some of the stats were not exactly stellar, both Cal and Reid Travis said this was not something that fans should expect to be the norm.
A total of 21 Pioneers saw game action and were led by senior Cooper Theobald (13 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds) and sophomore Michael Jefferson (14 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist). Though Transy never led in the game, they never let up with their effort. Theobald said after the game the competition against Kentucky could only help his team as they look ahead to their season.
For the Cats, seven players scored in double-digits, with E.J. Montgomery’s 14 points leading Kentucky. With 13 points each was Richards, Green, and Johnson, followed by Travis and Washington with 12. Hagans filled out the list of double-digit scorers with 10 points.
The Cats won the battle on the boards rather handily, 52-18. Reid Travis (10), EJ Montgomery (9) and Nick Richards (8) led the way. Kentucky also blocked 7 shots and added 5 steals and 13 assists to round out their night. The only categories where Cal’s team trailed the Pioneers was in turnovers (14 for UK and 12 for Transy) and 3-point % (9-13 for 29% for TU and 1-13 for 7.75 for the Cats).
Fans should not be in a panic mode just yet. This was the first game since the Bahamas that the Cats had faced an outside opponent. Having not played at their best leaves Calipari with a lot of material for practices. When it was suggested to Travis that this kind of game would “humble” the Cats, he replied simply that was not an issue with this team and they were always striving to work hard and improve in all areas of the game.
I also think it’s safe to say there won’t be a lot of games this season when Tyler Herro fails to score in double digits. It clearly wasn’t his best shooting performance (1-8 FG, 0-4 3-pt), but I’ve no doubt that will change dramatically by the time the next and final exhibition game rolls around.
To listen to some of the post-game quotes from Quade Green, Reid Travis, and P.J. Washington, just click here:
Next game: UK vs Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Exh) – November 2
Follow @CameronRadio for live game updates
Follow me on Twitter @ForeverBigBlue