On a cold November night outside Rupp Arena, the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats rode an impressive shooting exhibition to defeat Monmouth 90-44 to run their record to 6-1 on the season.
While the Hawks (0-8) struggled to score against the size and quickness of the Cats, UK shot a blazing 56.6 percent from the field, going 30-53. Included in the scoring display was 10-24 from distance and a sterling 20-23 from the charity stripe.
With tough matchups on the horizon including Louisville and North Carolina among others, the Cats needed a shot in the arm. They got it from multiple sources.
Freshman guard Tyler Herro led four Wildcats in double figures with 16 points. Keldon Johnson added 15, Quade Green had 14, and Reid Travis scored 13. All told, Every Wildcat that played in rotation scored at least six points.
Herro and PJ Washington tied for high rebound honors with eight apiece to help UK outrebound the Hawks 40-25.
UK quickly got the game in hand, taking a 17-6 advantage led by Herro’s eight straight points and a couple of threes by Green, a lead they would not relinquish. The closest the Hawks would get would be 22-18 on a layup by Melik Martin. The Cats would close the half though by outscoring Monmouth 20-4 to take a decisive 44-22 halftime advantage.
“I’m just trying to make the right play every time I’m on the court,” Herro said. “Quade’s just as good or even a better shooter than me so whenever he gets the opportunity he can let it go.” It was much of the same in the second half for UK. The Cats outscored Monmouth 46-22, shooting a torrid 64 percent from the field (16-25.) Meanwhile, Kentucky held the Hawks to a cold 22.6 percent from the field on 7-31 shooting.
Although the Cats scored 90 points in a game for the third time this season, coach John Calipari was much more impressed with his team’s defensive effort and willingness to be aggressive.
“We are zeroed in right now defensively on what we have to do," he said. "Now we made some mistakes but effort and energy we scrambled, we didn't stop as much. And so they're taking pride.
“We also added something, three stops in a row equals a kill. Now we had two stops in a row probably eight times, seven, eight times, nine. But we had five kills.”
Next up for the Cats is UNC-Greensboro on Saturday in Rupp Arena. The tip is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist located in Speedwell, Tenn. You can follow Shane on Facebook, on Twitter @shack_daddy_1, or on his website Coach Shack’s Corner at www.wixsite.com/coachshackscorner. He can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.