By Jamie H. Vaught
It was another explosive performance -- a high-scoring affair -- for the basketball Wildcats who faced NAIA opponent Asbury in an exhibition matchup Sunday night, Nov. 6.
After defeating Clarion 108-51 in an exhibition game on Sunday, Oct. 30, UK was able to score 48 more points against Asbury with aggressive defense and flashy dunks, winning a 156-63 blowout in front of 21,394 fans at Rupp Arena.
Speedy freshman guard De'Aaron Fox led Kentucky with a game-high 25 points along with four steals. But it was 6-4 senior guard Mychal Mulder who sparked the Cats with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Mulder (pictured), who didn't see a lot of action last winter, said he feels like a different player this time.
“I just feel more confident, more comfortable on the court, after that year of experience under my belt," said Mulder, who transferred to Kentucky in 2015 after two years at Vincennes University . "I feel more calm and poise. I know what my role is for the team.”
Kentucky, which opens its 2016-17 season against Stephen F. Austin on Friday night at Rupp Arena, also blocked 19 shots and forced 24 Asbury turnovers. The Eagles only hit 25.5 percent of their shots.
The Wildcats once again had a balanced scoring attack against Asbury like they did against Clarion. This time Kentucky featured eight players who scored in double figures.
Even though Calipari was pleased with Kentucky's balanced scoring along with 34 assists, he still sees a lot of improvement that needs to be made.
"I like the fact we share the ball for two games, we have had 30 assists (29 against Clarion)," said the coach. "And again, I understand they're exhibition games and we should win both those games by 30, 40, whatever it was but to win real games, to win against Division I teams, you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to post the ball. Defensively, you’ve got to be a team that rotates and at times appears to have six guys on the floor.
"This team's got to post the ball, we’ve got to be a better defensive team. We still don't trust each other, because we're so young. You’ve got to play team defense, you can't just play your man, even though you’ve got to guard your guy."
Added Calipari, "You can't play winning basketball unless you have a post presence."
Right now, Calipari said he would be comfortable with an eight- or nine-man rotation.
"That all depends on how many minutes guys can play," he said. "We're playing to win. If you looked at this, you would have to say Bam (Adebayo) stood out."
Adebayo had nine points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.
Photos by Chet White, UK Athletics