By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON — There was a lot to like and very little not to like from Kentucky’s Blue-White Game here Friday night.
Coach John Calipari has had a swagger about his freshman-dominated team for months and it was easy to see why after watching this intrasquad battle.
Freshman point guard De’Aaron might be even faster than anticipated and had 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Freshman guard Malik Monk looked like he was ready for the NBA dunk contest and had 26 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Veteran Isaiah Briscoe — and on this team a sophomore is a veteran — has the green light from Calipari to shoot this year and he did. He took 30 shots and made 14. He was 2-for-6 from 3-point range — an improvement over last year. And get this — at the foul line he was a more than respectable 9-for-12 to finish with 39 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Big man Bam Adebayo got a cut under his eye early in the game and missed most of the first half but still had 20 points and 12 rebounds. However, he had seven turnovers.
Freshman Sacha Killeya-Jones had 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting but had NINE fouls in the first half.
“You had both Sacha and Bam foul a bunch. Their hands were down and you can’t play that way,” Calipari said.
Other encouraging signs: Mychal Mulder was 4-for-5 from 3-point range, Dominique Hawkins had 22 points and no turnovers, Derek Willis had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“Dom defends, is tough and comes up with balls,” Calipari said. “Mychal is more confident this year.”
What will be interesting going forward is how UK will develop defensively. Calipari has said he thought this could be one of his best defensive teams. It didn’t look that way tonight, but it was the Blue-White Game and defense seldom is the best part of this game.
One thing that did impress me was that Wenyen Gabriel showed the ability to guard someone like Willis or stay with a player like Briscoe. Not everyone can do that.
“We have guys that can really guard on the ball. Derek is better, Wenyen can guard and I love his energy,” Calipari said. “What we have to do is get Sacha, Bam and Isaac (Humphries) to play defense. But we will be alright.”
Kentucky was 11-for-30 from 3-point range, about the percentage Calipari expected and higher than many others anticipated.
“I am not concerned about that,” Calipari said.