By LARRY VAUGHT
The NBA scouts reportedly came to see Valparaiso senior Alec Peters play but what they saw instead what a dominating overall team effort by Kentucky as the No. 6 Cats rolled to a 87-63 victory.
It was UK’s first game after losing 97-92 at home to UCLA on Saturday to end a 42-game home win streak and this one was never in doubt.
With the score tied 4-4, UK went on a 21-0 run. Valpo missed 12 straight shots and went almost eight minutes without a field goal. Kentucky did this even though it had seven turnovers in the first four minutes that nearly sent coach John Calipari into a tizzy.
Peters missed his first four shots and the 6-9 forward ended the game with 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting from the field and eight rebounds in 33 minutes but he was never a major factor in the game.. He appeared to slightly injure his leg or knee midway of the second half but did return.
Kentucky had a number of offensive stars including Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder off the bench. Willis has 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting and four rebounds in 15 minutes and Mulder had nine points on 4-for-10 shooting and seven rebounds in 16 minutes.
Bam Adebayo led Kentucky with 16 points and seven rebounds while Malik Monk had 15 points. Isaiah Briscoe had 10 points while De’Aaron Fox had 9 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Valparaiso head coach Matt Lottich came away impressed. His team lost 76-54 at No. 2 Oregon but had a 68-60 win over Alabama, 92-89 win over BYU and 65-52 win over then No. 21 Rhode Island.
“It is a lot of emotion for us to come in here and play against a team the caliber of Kentucky. We were a little rushed the first half and Kentucky had a lot to do with that,” Lottich said. “There is no about about it. The Wildcats are a fantastic team. They have some ambitious goals and the talent to reach those goals.”
He said the one thing his team didn’t want was for UK to lose against UCLA. Lottich said it got Kentucky’s defense “refocused” for this game.
“They have supreme athleticism. They are very disciplined on defense,” Lottich said. “They had a good game plan on Alec. He was patient and despite their defensive effort he had over 20 points. But they sped us up and we took a lot of quick shots.”
The Wildcats average time of possession of 14 seconds and they scored 1.101 points per possession. Valparaiso had an average possession time of 17 seconds and averaged .818 points per possession.
“I think their best offense is transition. I thought in the first half we took a lot of quick shots. They sped us up and got out and feeling good in transition. They are just tough to stop,” Lottich said. “Then if they miss, they are going to go get it. Numerous times we stopped them and they were just playing volleyball on the glass.”