With a high-expectations and many players drawing elite NBA-comparisons, Coach John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats opened their season at home Friday night against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The Wildcats won convincingly, 87-64, behind their sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe who lead the team in scoring with 17 points.
As known stars De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe shined during Friday’s game, heavily talented and high prospect Edrice “Bam” Adebayo picked up two fouls in the first 43 seconds. Bam then found the bench for the remainder of the first half.
Adebayo finished the game with five points and a rebound. As it wasn't the start we expected for Adebayo, his NBA-ready frame and paint skills deem him much more production in future games.
As for the popular 3-guard tandem of Briscoe, Fox and Malik Monk, Fox and Briscoe had highlight nights while Monk struggled from the field.
Briscoe’s 17 points came from 6-11 shooting. For having a tough shooting year last season, Briscoe showed Wildcat fans how much work he put into his offensive game this offseason.
Fox, setting the school record for most assists in a season opener with 12, recorded a double-double by adding 12 points to his stat line. The freshman point guard ran most of the offense and excelled his court-vision talents in the open floor.
Monk, failing to score in the first half, shot just 4-14 for 10 points. The 6’3 guard was held to just 1-6 from behind the 3-point arc.
As for senior Derek Willis, he primed the Cats early on both ends of the court. The forward posted an efficient 15 points on 5-7 shooting, including 4-4 from the free-throw line and five rebounds with three blocked shots.
Due to Bam’s foul trouble, big men Isaac Humphries and Wenyen Gabriel saw extended playing time. Humphries stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. Gabriel provided efficient minutes as well, scoring 10 points on 5-6 shooting.
The Wildcats as a team shot 50% from the floor while holding SFA to 44%. They also forced 28 turnovers by SFA and drew 32 fouls.
Here is a look at the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
- With 2,206 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader
- Kentucky is 95-19 all-time in season openers, including an 8-0 record under John Calipari
- Calipari has a 621-185 all-time on-court record, including a 218-47 mark at UK
- UK has a 547-64 all-time record at historic Rupp Arena
- UK has won 203 of its last 230 home games
- UK is 120-4 at Rupp Arena under Calipari
- The Cats are in a 38-game winning streak in the arena
- The Wildcats have made a 3-pointer in 976 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation
- Kentucky opened with the lineup of Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Derek Wills
- The Wildcats were outrebounded by a 36-28 margin but won points in the paint (38-28) and points off turnovers (32-14)
- Kentucky shot 50 percent from the floor, connecting on 31 of 62 shots
- Nine Wildcats scored in the game, including five who reached double-figures
- UK shared the ball well, assisting 21 times on 31 made field goals
- Kentucky led 48-32 at the break, shooting 50 percent from the field
- The Lumberjacks took a 3-2 lead, but Kentucky rebounded immediately with a traditional 3-point play from Willis to take a lead it would not yield the remainder of the half
- UK took its largest lead of the half with 16-point advantage at the break when Dominique Hawkins connected with Wenyen Gabriel for a dunk with one second on the clock
Second Half Story
- A 3-pointer by Willis at the 14:12 mark of the second half pushed UK’s lead to 25 points
- The margin stretched to 27 points with 4:58 remaining with an Adebayo free throw
- The Wildcats remained consistent, connecting on 50 percent of its shots from the field in the second half – the same clip as in the opening 20 minutes
- Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe led the team in scoring with 17 points. He added a pair of assists
- He made his team-leading 25th consecutive start
- It was the 20th time in his career he registered 10 or more points
- Freshman De’Aaron Fox registered a double-double with 12 points and 12 assists. He also opened the 2016-17 season scoring with a pair of free throws with less than a minute played in the game
- Fox’s 12 assists set a new standard for a season opener (with assist records dating back to the 1971-72 season), breaking Dirk Minnefield’s mark of 11 vs. Butler on Nov. 27, 1982
- It’s also the most assists in a Kentucky debut, topping Kyle Macy’s record of 10 vs. Southern Miss on Nov. 26, 1977. Assist records began being kept in the 1971-72 season
- Fox joins four Wildcats under John Calipari to debut with a double-double – and the first in a points-assists variety. Terrence Jones, Julius Randle and Briscoe were the others
- UK’s freshman point guard also had a team-high three steals
- Freshman Wenyen Gabriel connected on his first five shot attempts for 10 first-half points.
- Sophomore Isaac Humphries had nine points and a team-high eight rebounds
- Humphries also added a team-high and career-best three steals, while also swatting a team-best three blocked shots
- Senior Mychal Mulder drained a 3-pointer with 6:32 remaining in the first half to extend UK’s nation-leading total games with a made 3-pointer
- He finished the game with a career-high eight points
- Senior Derek Willis, who a season ago began his junior year with a then career-high 14 points, tallied 15 total points on opening night
- He reached double-digits less than five minutes into the game. The scoring splurge was highlighted be a pair of traditional 3-point plays
- Tied Humphries for the most blocks with three
- It was the 12th time in his career he reached double-figure scoring
- Sophomore Tai Wynyard and freshman Brad Calipari made their collegiate debuts
Kentucky has a day off Saturday as they prep for the Canisius Golden Griffins. The game will be played at Rupp Arena at 6 P.M. EDT and aired on ESPN2.