By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON — There was a lot to like about the way Kentucky handled Division II Clarion 108-51 in Sunday night’s exhibition game.
Kentucky’s freshmen were all as good as advertised and showed off all their athleticism and skill.
But the player who impressed me the most was sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe. He did a lot of things well but it is what he didn’t do — force any shots — that shows his maturity.
He didn’t take his first shot until over six minutes into the second half. But he had seven assists, three rebounds, one steal and one forced five-second violation by that time.
He finished with a double-double — 11 points and 11 assists in 22 minutes. He was 3-for-5 from the field, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range, and 4-for-5 at the foul line. Those were much better shooting numbers than he had last year. He also had four rebounds and just two turnovers.
Briscoe had one sequence in the second half that had the Rupp Arena crowd — and teammates — roaring. He tossed a lob to freshman De’Aaron Fox for a dunk and then threw a pass off the backboard to Sacha Killeya-Jones for another dunk.
Clarion coach Marcess Williams said Kentucky was “as good as advertised” and was “really long and really athletic” which caused his team problems.
He praised Briscoe’s play.
“It’s special when one of your lead guard can distribute the ball that well,” Williams said. “I know there has been a lot of talk about his jump shot and he shot a couple of shots where he looked comfortable and confident. I thought he was strong. Really physical for a point guard. With him and Fox in the backcourt, that is a great combination.”
Throw in Malik Monk and Williams says Kentucky has three first-round draft picks who are “explosive” and really terrific together.