Well, the exhibition season is over. With an 83-51 victory over Kentucky State, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team is all set for the #1 vs #2 matchup with Michigan State on Tuesday in the Champions Classic. On Friday night, however, the Wildcats had one last exhibition game against in-state school Kentucky State. Postgame, UK assistant coach Joel Justus noted that there was improvement from Kentucky (the Wildcats were outrebounded against Georgetown College previously), there are still things to work on before the Cats take on the Spartans.
Ashton Hagans finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists has he appears to be everything that a second year PG under Coach Cal should be. Justus stated that the staff was proud of where Hagans is, but are looking at him to become more of a leader and help get his teammates where they need to be. Nate Sestina, in Justus’ words a “connector,” had 13 points and 8 rebounds as he worked against the Kentucky State zone. Immanuel Quickley led all scorers with 17 points on 6-10 shooting. Freshman Tyrese Maxey stuffed the statsheet with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, a performance Coach Justus considered “pretty standard” for what the staff is asking him to do.
Certainly, the Thorobreds were outmatched and the victory for Kentucky was nearly assured, but both teams were able to test themselves to get ready for the upcoming regular season. Kentucky State will head to Bowling Green tomorrow to take on Western Kentucky. Thorobred head coach Jackson stated that the turn around wouldn’t be an issue as K.State will need to repeat the feat come conference tournament time. Justus, in his postgame comments, reiterated the point that these exhibition games give the staff an opportunity to see where the team is and what needs to be done moving forward.
Kentucky finishes its exhibition season 2-0, but the real test starts on Tuesday when the Cats head to New York to play #1 Michigan State. Now, the fun begins.