LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- UK has lost four exhibition games all-time. It was clear from the opening tip Monday night at Rupp Arena (and OK, likely well before that) that this was not going to be another one.
The Wildcats scored on each of their first six possessions and led 13-0 just over two minutes into the opening exhibition game of the 2015-2016 season against Ottawa University of Kansas. Kentucky led by as many as 35 in the first half at 55-20 and the lead was 67-35 at the break. The final margin was 117-58.
Freshman Jamal Murray led the Cats with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Five other Wildcats hit double figures. Fellow Freshman Skal Labissierre had 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Tyler Ulis hit 4-of-5 three-balls and scored 17 points to go with 10 assists. Isaiah Briscoe scored 11 points while Marcus Lee and Derek Willis each had 10. The Wildcats shot 60 percent for the game and had 32 assists against their overmatched opponents.
"We shared it," said UK coach John Calipari. "I thought we did a fairly good job of executing, being a brand-new team. The spacing was pretty good. Had opportunities for drives on the second and third drive.
Again, Ottawa is a team we should beat and we should beat by a lot. Again, our numbers, the shooting percentages, the only thing we didn't do well was shoot free throws. What you have is a couple guys go 0-2, 0-2. All of a sudden, you know, one went 1-3, one went 0-2, the other one went 0-2, that's 1-7. You're not going to shoot a real good percentage if three guys do that. But the rest of the guys I think did pretty good."
The alma mater of UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart was led by guard Morshon Norfleet who scored 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting including 4-of-8 from the three-point line.
"Unless an NBA team calls us to schedule us that’s the best team we are ever going to play," said Ottawa head coach Aaron Siebenthall. "Right now I feel like I’m back in college and I just took a really hard test, and I didn’t do very well on it, but it’s over with. It was a fantastic experience from the second we got out here. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our guys and I can’t think Mitch Barnhart and Coach (John) Cal(ipari) enough for hosting us."
John Calipari is hoping to play eight players on a regular basis, but is still trying to figure out who will be in that rotation. He'd like to press with this group but won't do so if it means giving up some open looks off it like they did Monday. And they've only spent about 45 minutes working on a zone offense. But he's also got a lot to like.
"Got a great group of kids," said Calipari. "I mean, competitive, great basketball IQs. But they're also great kids that care about one another. They're passing. Going forward, it bodes well for what we could be. But we're not there yet, believe me."
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