- Thursday, November 19 2009 -
Cancun Challenge (at Lexington, KY)
Sam Houston State - 92 (Head Coach: Bob Marlin) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 102 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 4th by AP and 5th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 53, Sam Houston State 42
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Miami (OH) 72 - 70|||||Rider 92 - 63|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Sam Says Uncle
Say this for Kentucky so far, it sure makes basketball games entertaining.
The Cats survived (3-0) another audacious three-point shooting display from its opponent to race past Sam Houston State 102-92 in the first of four games that are part of the Cancun Challenge. It was the second consecutive game the Cats gave up at least 15 triples and yet somehow survived.
"I just called the rules committee to see if we can move the line back," UK coach John Calipari said. "This may be at this point the worst defensive team I've had since 1988. At the end of the day if we are going to be the team everyone thinks we can be we've got to be better defensively. We have no sense of urgency defensively. None."
Corey Allmond must have been watching Miami's Nick Winbush do his best Crispin brother impersonation Monday night the way he lit up UK's perimeter defense. Allmond connected on eight three-pointers before the break, the final one an improbable off balance, double-clutch heave over John Wall's outstretched hand and finished with 37 points on 11-of-16 shooting from behind the arc. Allmond shattered former UK great Tony Delk's Rupp Arena record of nine three-pointers made by an individual player.
The shooting display left the Rupp Arena crowd of 22,728 gasping for breath and Calipari calling two timeouts to light up his defenders just a day after saying he doesn't like to use timeouts throughout the game. The Bearkats were 18-of-38 from long range, amazing given they were just 3-of-22 from inside the arc over the game's first 29 minutes. Over the past two games Miami and Sam Houston State have cashed a combined 33 triples, with the Bearkats' 18 setting the Rupp Arena opponent mark.
"You can't defend this way and win," Calipari said. "Any championship team at any level plays defense. They don't accept that.
"It's who we are right now. I'm not embarrassed about it, it's a starting point. If we don't get better can we score 100 on everybody? We had better."
Calipari's postgame message seemed to register given the players' comments afterward. There was a big of sheepishness in discussing the offensive onslaught that saw UK shoot 60 percent from the field and place three players over the 20-point threshold.
"Until everyone wants to take pride in playing defense we're going to struggle," freshman guard John Wall said. "In high school you can do that and not play defense because they won't guard you. We have to be a better defensive team because we can score on offense but until we do there are going to be a lot of close games."
UK relied almost solely on its starting five. DeMarcus Cousins' 27 points led a scoring attack that saw the starters score all 102 of the Cats' points, while John Wall added 21, Patrick Patterson 20 and Eric Bledsoe 19. Sam Houston State had no answer for Cousins' size from the opening tip as the 6-foot-11 freshman added 18 rebounds to go with his point total. It marked the third time in as many games a freshman led UK in scoring.
"I know he can do that every game if he gets to the point where he just listens to coach and does what he's supposed to," Wall said of his fellow frosh.
Still, the talk of the night was UK's aversion to defense, a trait that won't sit well with Calipari.
"I'm going to go back and watch the tape and I'm going to be punching walls," Calipari said. "I've got so much work to do with this team. We've got a lot to do to be a good team."
At least the Cats are learning while winning, something that hasn't happened early the past two seasons.
DeMarcus Cousins dunks as part of his career high 27 points
John Wall with a reverse dunk
Darius Miller (#1) shoots