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4 more thoughts and postgame notes from win over Transylvania

The first exhibition is done but the Cats have plenty of room to improve

PJ Washington Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

It’s basketball time in the Bluegrass, and Kentucky got things started with their first exhibition game against Transylvania to allow us to see this year’s team finally play against someone other than themselves.

Kentucky was a lot bigger and a lot faster than the Division 3 opponent and were able to jump out to a big lead early and keep it that way throughout the half, then took a 49-30 lead into the break.

The second half was more of the same from the Wildcats as they were able to take care of business in their first exhibition game with a 94-66 victory.

This team is going to be very good but they still have some things to work on. Luckily, it is only October.

Thoughts on the game

Nick Richards continues to show improvement

During the trip to the Bahamas, we saw just how much Richards had improved from last season during the offseason and he continued to play at a high-level tonight.

The competition wasn’t as tough as he faced in the Bahamas, but he still showed the little things that will make a huge difference. Things like his reaction time for blocking shots, his quickness when rolling to the basket after setting a screen and how much his hands have improved since freshman year.

Richards is going to be a big factor in this season as he is our one true rim protector and so far, this preseason he has shown that he will have the ability to do just that much better than he did last year.

This team is deep

In past seasons, Calipari has been forced to play guys in situations only because he didn’t have the depth to make a sub.

That is not the case this year.

This season, Cal has nine options when it comes to depth and they all will be getting minutes. If someone is not playing well and needs to come out, Cal can make the sub and the team will not suffer like we have seen in the past.

This will be a fun team to watch with all the different lineup possibilities that Cal has to work with.

The three-point shooting was lackluster

Cal has had teams in the past that really struggled from behind the line. However, this team is built to have a ton of success from outside.

Even though they didn’t show it tonight, I am not worried about the shooting going forward because we have already seen what they can do from long range while they were in the Bahamas.

Going forward I believe this team will be a very good three-point shooting team unlike teams in the past.

The defense will need some work

I know it was just an exhibition game and I shouldn’t be worried about anything I see in a game like this.

However, the defense was a little concerning seeing that Transy was able to drive right past our guards and get to the rim with ease. Also, this team had some head scratching moments where they just seemed to get lost on the defensive side of the floor.

Defense is something that must be improved before Kentucky takes the floor against Duke.

The Cats now have a week before they take the floor again for their second exhibition game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania which will be at 7:00 PM on the SEC Network next Friday.

Here’s a look at the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:

First-Half Facts

  • Kentucky used the combination of Quade Green, Immanuel Quickley, PJ Washington, Nick Richards and Reid Travis to start the game. Obviously, this is the first time UK has used this starting combination this season.
  • Richards won the opening tip, hit a free-throw on Kentucky’s first possession and blocked a Transylvania shot on the opposite end of the floor to put Kentucky firmly in control of the game to start.
  • Transylvania hit a 3-pointer at 17:18 in the first half to cut the Kentucky lead to 6-5 before the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to open up a double-digit lead over the next four minutes of play.
  • The Wildcats held their largest lead of the first half (24 points) with 4:55 left in the half. However, Transy outscored UK 11-6 in the final minutes of the first half to close the gap to 19 at halftime, 49-30.
  • UK controlled the stat sheet in the first half holding a 28-12 advantage on the boards while outscoring the Pioneers 34-10 in the paint and 14-7 in fast-break points.
  • Nine of the 10 Wildcats that played in the game scored at least one point in the first half paced by Richards, who had 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Second-Half Story

  • Kentucky started the second half with Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, EJ Montgomery and Reid Travis.
  • Quade Green scored seven straight points in the second half starting with a 3 at 14:24 in the second half and ending with a layup at 12:12. Those seven straight points helped UK increase its lead 28, which at the time was its largest of the night.
  • Kentucky increased its lead to 28 with 4:50 left in the game but Transy responded by cutting the UK lead back to 20 with 1:27 remaining.
  • The Wildcats ended the game on a 8-0 run over the final 1:18.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky shot 56.9 percent from the field in the game. That field-goal percentage would have tied the third-best field-goal percentage in a game last season for Kentucky.
  • The Wildcats played 11 players in the game with nine scoring points. Seven of the nine players scored in double digits.
  • UK went 27-for-36 from the free-throw line in the game for 75 percent.
  • Kentucky dominated in the paint with a 62-24 edge in paint points and a 52-18 advantage on the glass.
  • UK also had a 16-7 advantage in fast-break points and 16-2 edge in second-chance points.
  • Transylvania played 21 players in the game with 10 scoring points.
  • Kentucky led the entire game, earning its largest lead of the night of 29 points (73-44) with 8:53 left in the game.

Player Notes

  • EJ Montgomery led Kentucky with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting with nine rebounds.
  • Montgomery tied Transy’s Michael Jefferson for leading scorer in the game.
  • Nick Richards was one of three players with 13 points.
  • The sophomore added eight rebounds, two blocks and one steal going 4-of-5 from the field and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.
  • Keldon Johnson went 4-of-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to post 13 points.
  • Johnson added five rebounds, one assist and one steal.
  • Quade Green had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting with one 3-pointer and one assist.
  • Reid Travis was the only player on either team to have a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Travis added two assists and one steal.
  • The graduate transfer went 3-of-5 from the field and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.
  • This would have been Travis’ 27th career double-double.
  • PJ Washington scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds and one assist.
  • Ashton Hagans was the seventh UK player in double figures with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.