By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari was hoping for a grind-it-out, close game against Arizona State in the Bahamas Monday night.
He didn’t get that as No. 1 UK rolled from the start and thrashed Arizona State 115-69, it’s third straight game over 100 points for the first time since 1977.
But what Calipari did get was to watch history. Freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox became just the second UK player to get a triple double with his 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists (he also had two steals). The only other UK player ever to have a triple-double was Chris Mills on Dec. 27, 1988.
As impressive as it was to see what Fox did so early in his career, he was not UK’s only star. Malik Monk had 23 points and had a highlight reel play when he caught a long outlet pass from Isaiah Briscoe with one hand and somehow threw it to Wenyen Gabriel before falling out of bounds. And Gabriel finished the play with a reverse slam.
Briscoe had missed the previous two games with a bruised thigh but had 20 points (he was 7-for-9 from the field) along with seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. Bam Adebayo had a routine 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, nine rebounds and three blocks. Gabriel got 10 points and seven rebounds. Derek Willis had 11 points and six rebounds.
Kentucky hit 44 of 83 shots (11 of 28 3-pointers) and won the rebounding battling 59-33 as outmanned Arizona State was just 25 of 73 from the field. UK also blocked nine shots.
The Cats managed an incredible 1.386 points per possession and UK’s average time of possession was 13 seconds.
Even ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, who has never been over complimentary of UK or coach John Calipari, could do nothing but rave about the Wildcats.
“If you don’t like this Kentucky team, you’re either biased against them or don’t know basketball,” said Dakich late in the game.
Seth Greenburg, ESPN’s in-studio analyst, was impressed, too, with “how hard Kentucky plays and how accountable they are” to each other. He said getting that many talented, young players to do that is the “magic of John Calipari.”