WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

#11 Kentucky Rolls In Season Opener Over ETSU

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - John Calipari has no idea if center Enes
Kanter will ever suit up for Kentucky.
The way the rest of Calipari's latest batch of hot shot freshmen
played in the 11th-ranked Wildcats' 88-65 win over East Tennessee
State on Friday night, Kentucky might not need the 6-foot-11 Kanter
to thrive.
Terrence Jones had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Doron Lamb added
20 points and Brandon Knight had 17 points and five assists as
Kentucky rolled by the Buccaneers in the second half.
"Our freshmen played well," Calipari said. "They've got to
get steadier, got to get rougher and tougher."
Still, for a class that will forever be compared to the historic
one that came before it, the new kids appear to be up to the task.
Kentucky made 13 of 26 3-pointers, turned it over just 10 times
and responded when the defending Atlantic Sun champions pulled
within 10 points early in the second half.
"I think we're the best team that can shoot 3s, that's what
coach said, in the country," Lamb said.
Isiah Brown led the Buccaneers with 25 points, but East
Tennessee couldn't match Kentucky's firepower even without Kanter.
The school is appealing an NCAA ruling Thursday declaring Kanter
permanently ineligible because he received more than the necessary
benefits while playing for a club in Turkey two years ago. Kanter
can practice with the Wildcats while the case is on appeal and
watched the game from the bench in a white sweatsuit.
Calipari said he respected the NCAA's decision even if he didn't
agree with it and is hopeful the decision will be overturned.
"(Maybe) people will look at this in a common sense way and say
the kid deserves better than this," Calipari said.
If Kanter can't play, Jones will likely be called on to be
Kentucky's premier big man. It's not a role he envisioned when he
signed last spring, but it's one he'll accept.
"I'll do whatever Coach wants me to do," Jones said.
Against the Buccaneers, it was a little bit of everything. His
energetic play helped Kentucky break things open after the
Buccaneers pulled within 50-40 with 18:11 to go.
Jones ripped off Kentucky's next 12 points starting his own
personal run with a dunk, then hitting two jumpers before adding a
layup while getting fouled. He hit the free throw then knocked down
a 3-pointer as Kentucky's lead ballooned to 62-42. ETSU would get
no closer than 17 the rest of the way.
"We showed pretty much that everybody can play," said Jones,
who tied Cotton Nash for the second-most points by a Kentucky
player in his debut. "We're going to try and bring toughness and
play at both ends of the floor and just do all the little things
Coach wants us to do."
The game was a rematch of last season's opening NCAA tournament
matchup, a 100-71 Kentucky win.
Eight short months later, the stars that led Kentucky's
renaissance in Calipari's first season on the bench are long gone.
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe are
in the NBA.
In their place step Knight, Jones and Lamb. While Calipari has
cautioned it's not fair to compare this year's freshman crop to
last year's record-breaking class, he knows comparisons are
inevitable.
For a night at least, the new kids looked like they can hold
their own.
"It's a different cast of players, but the three freshmen are
fantastic," East Tennessee coach Murry Bartow said.
Knight, the latest in a string of top-rated high school point
guards brought in by Calipari, was steady if not as spectacular as
Wall. He tried to do too much - a problem for Wall early in the
season last year - and was efficient, turning the ball over just
twice in 32 minutes.
"I thought Brandon had a great floor game," Calipari said. "I
thought he ran the team and he was in control, went when he should
have, shot when he should have and that is amazing after the
practices we've had."
Lamb came off the bench to drain three 3-pointers and make the
Buccaneers pay for playing a 1-3-1 zone, the defense West Virginia
used so successfully last March.
The Wildcats missed their first 20 3-pointers against the
Mountaineers and never recovered.
There were no such problems on Friday night. Knight hit a
3-pointer barely two minutes into the game and the Wildcats were
off and running.
"Last year ... we didn't make any shots and I kept telling them
'we're good shooters, we're good shooters,"' Calipari said. "This
team, they make shots."

ETSU (0-1)
Brown 12-19 1-2 25, Smith 5-13 2-2 15, Tubbs 1-6 0-0 2, Williams 1-6 4-7 7, Sollazzo 0-2 0-0 0, Cooley 3-11 6-6 13, D. Johnson 0-0 1-2 1, A. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Poderis 0-0 0-0 0, Ward 1-2 0-0 2, Wilkinson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-61 14-19 65.
KENTUCKY (1-0)
Jones 10-19 3-10 25, Harrellson 1-2 0-0 2, Miller 3-9 0-0 8, Knight 6-13 1-4 17, Liggins 5-10 2-3 14, Poole Jr. 0-1 0-0 0, Hood 1-3 0-1 2, Polson 0-0 0-0 0, Lamb 7-10 3-5 20, Vargas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-68 9-23 88.
Halftime-Kentucky 50-35. 3-Point Goals-ETSU 5-17 (Smith 3-6, Cooley 1-3, Williams 1-4, Ward 0-1, A. Johnson 0-1, Tubbs 0-2), Kentucky 13-26 (Knight 4-7, Lamb 3-5, Jones 2-3, Liggins 2-4, Miller 2-5, Hood 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-ETSU 33 (Brown 14), Kentucky 51 (Jones 12). Assists-ETSU 12 (Cooley 4), Kentucky 18 (Liggins 6). Total Fouls-ETSU 21, Kentucky 15. A-23,740.


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