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Jay Bilas: “I am not sure (ESPN) SportsCenter has enough time for all these highlights” from UK win


How impressive was Kentucky in Tuesday’s 93-57 exhibition win over the Puerto Rican Reserves in Nassau?

“I am not sure (ESPN) SportsCenter has enough time for all these highlights,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas during the game. “Sometimes more than one guy is going after it when you throw it up there and they all know how to finish. This Kentucky team is awfully good. The Kentucky Wildcats are legit.”

Is it ever.

Kentucky coach John Calipari again watched most of the game from the top row of the bleachers as he let assistant John Robic coach just like he did assistant Kenny Payne on Monday. But Calipari did join the ESPN crew early in the second half to offer his analysis on his team.

“I am pleased because they are competing against good talent and two, they are sharing the ball. They are really creating good opportunities,” Calipari said on ESPN. “We worked for 10 days on these things but we are pretty organized because both Andrew (Harrison) and Tyler (Ulis) are doing a good job of running this team.”

Once again, Kentucky had no single star. Alex Poythress continued his impressive overall play and led the team with 15 points (7-for-9 shooting) and 10 rebounds and had Calipari raving about him during his time with ESPN. Marcus Lee added 14 points (6-for-7) and seven rebounds while Aaron Harrison had 12 points and Karl Anthony-Towns had 10 points and six rebounds. But as in the previous two wins, everybody on the roster contributed — walk-on Tod Lanter ever buried a 3-pointer late in the game and Derek Willis went 4-for-4 from the field to add nine points.

Freshman point guard Tyler Ulis continued to be a 5-9 dynamo making steals, creating havoc and running the offense like Calipari and Robic wanted. He had seven points and four assists.

“Andrew Harrison is the starting point guard and has really improved. Tyler Ulis is going to bring a lot of things to this team, but Andrew Harrison is the starting point guard. But that doesn’t mean Tyler Ulis won’t have a huge role for this team,” Bilas said.

“I am just excited. I am just ready to get out here and show what we can do. We want to show everybody we can play as a team no matter how many great players we have,” Ulis said.

Kentucky does have great players. Calipari has nine McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster. No team has ever had that number even though both UK and Duke will this year. By comparison, there are seven McDonald’s All-Americans in the entire Big 12 Conference, six in the Big Ten.

There are a lot of college teams that will have a hard time staying with this team. There will be a few hang with Kentucky and maybe even beat them, but that’s not a very long list,” Bilas said.

Not if Kentucky can continue to overpower teams with size and depth the way it has in three exhibition games here. Granted, UK has not played a team like Florida, Kansas or Arizona — a team some have ranked ahead of UK in preseason polls — but the Cats have played games against three older, experienced teams with professional players and have yet to give up 60 points and have won by 25, 23 and 36 points.

Bilas and Calipari both raved about the play of Poythress, who is averaging 13.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in the Bahamas.

“Alex referred to as energy guy but it is hard to bring energy all the time and give maximum effort, but that is what he has been doing. If that is an indication of the type of season he is going to have, he’s going to have a really good year,” Bilas said. “He can bring things other can’t. His strength is not as shooter and getting his own shot, but he can do things many other guys cannot do.

“Alex may be a role player but he has been a star in his role. He has been best player for Kentucky here. He is running the floor, hitting the glass, he’s enthusiastic. He is not the best shooter or highest draft pick, but he has been the best player because of how hard he has played. It is contagious. If you see teammates around you sacrifice, you are more willing to sacrifice. If you see others showing physical and mental toughness like Alex Poythress, you are more likely to join in.”

Count Robic, who had Poythress take a potential game-winning 3-pointer in last year’s loss at South Carolina after Calipari had been ejected, as an even bigger Poythress backer now.

“I have never seen him playing better in the three years we have had him. Hopefully this will carry over. Now he can go. He’s in great shape,” Robic said.

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  1. King Ghidora

    UK has 9 McD AA’s. But no one has mentioned that WCS wasn’t one of them. That’s right. The potential lottery pick from last year was not a McD guy. Neither was Derek Willis who played extremely well today. Neither was Dominique Hawkins who has played very well. All 3 of those guys are good enough that they should have been McD guys IMO. They are certainly playing at that level now or in the case of WCS the way he played last year and the way he will likely play this year.

    And maybe it’s just an early season thing but this team looks like the deepest team ever by far. Maybe Willis or Hawkins wouldn’t make McD level but they’re close. And WCS is certainly above that level. This team is loaded to the gills. I have been watching basketball a long time and I’ve never seen so much talent on one college team. They should have a dozen McD guys judging by the way they play.They certainly should have 10 based on what WCS has accomplished.

    Let’s put it this way. They could have a dozen draft picks on this team.

  2. Anonymous

    So much talent on this UK team is putting it mildly, for this team is clearly a title contender, but these teams they are playing in the Bahamas are not even close to being competitive.. Perhaps the team Sunday will be a real test. I say school is still out on this team against better competition. I sure like what I see so far, and Cal is as cocky as ever these days. It is good to be a Wildcat right now. Let’s hope they can stay together and stay focused. I think Ulis is probably as good or maybe better at the point than Andrew Harrison. But I like them both. From what I have seen too, the second unit with Ulis, Hawkins, Willis, Lee and Towns is as good as the starting five.

  3. Anonymous

    UK is loaded no doubt, but these teams they have faced in the Bahamas are not competitive. I say school is still out on this team. I do like what I see. I think Ulis is as good or better than Andrew at the point, and his unit is as good or better than the starters. It will be interesting to see how the rotation goes when they play for real. I hope Cal can keep them all happy and focused. UK is very good, and they will be hard to beat because of their length, depth, and talent.

    1. Anonymous

      Sorry for the double post.

      1. Larry T Clemons

        I apologize for assuming you were Mikey….(He would of never apologized on this board). ” I’m Sorry.” I was swayed by previous Anonymous post.

        1. Anonymous

          No problem. Just expressing my views. Sorry for the clown comment, and very glad you are quite successful.

          1. Larry T Clemons

            Happiness is my success…didn’t mean to seem so bragadotious, but I moved from UK to South Florida with $80 and no car…and I’ve made my Mom proud, and that’s my true accomplishment…I enjoy your post and this is going to be Fun. have a Blessed evening.

  4. Larry T Clemons

    I have never seen so many lobs attempted and made in any Basketball Game, College or Pro….Maybe, at Freedom Hall when I watched the Harlem Globetrotter. But that was exhibition, Not two Teams in competition to Win !

    1. LindaS

      Larry I love your bragaotious….and we are going to be able to be bragadotious this year with this team for sure. little slick quick rick is already crying….

  5. King Ghidora

    I don’t agree that the competition is all that weak that they’re facing on this tour. Butler is a very good player. I saw guys sinking 25 foot jumpers in the game. There’s no way of knowing for sure until the time comes but I think the Cats will do very well. I don’t really expect the kind of blowouts we’ve seen in every game but I expect to see some really big blowouts. Let’s not forget that two key members of the team aren’t even playing now. Plus I saw a guy that’s 7’2″ throw a no look pass to a wide open player under the basket and this was out on the break. That open shooter under the basket gave the ball up for a slam too. This team is willing to pass the ball and that means a lot. I am hoping for great things. Am I “expecting” great things? I try to never expect things. It only clouds the issues.

  6. LindaS

    DR will be the big test.

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