Richardson, who scored a team-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, said he didn’t think the Wildcats were very good defenders. His coach, who watched the rest of the Colonels shoot 10-for-58 en route to a 26-percent night from the field, was taken aback.
“The feeling that our guys have right now after shooting 26 percent and being held to 49 points is a feeling that’s not good,” Neubauer said. “It’s not something that we’re accustomed to or many teams in the country are accustomed to. However, that is what Kentucky has done to every opponent that they’ve played so far.
“I told my team they were just guarded by the best defensive team in the modern era of college basketball, and I’m not exaggerating a little bit when I say that.”
It marked the fifth consecutive game that Kentucky (9-0) has held an opponent to 29 percent or less from the field and the sixth time this season. The highest shooting percentage posted against the Cats to date is 38.5 by Boston University.
“Some of the numbers that we’re producing right now are kind of silly. It’s mind-boggling,” said UK assistant coach John Robic, who sat in on the postgame press conference in the place of an ‘under the weather’ John Calipari. “Our guys have taken pride in defense now and are really buying into it.”
Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns led UK with 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. Fellow newcomer Trey Lyles recorded his first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Willie Cauley-Stein (11) and Marcus Lee (10) also reached double-figure scoring for the Cats.
EKU (4-3) played without its top post player, 6-foot-8 center Eric Stutz, who was averaging 12. 3 points and 5.3 rebounds on the season. As a result, the Colonels didn’t have the type of balance they usually feature and went 6-for-30 from 3-point range.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highs and lows:
WHAT WE LIKED: Kentucky continued to stay locked in defensively and got really good production from its young big men as Towns, Lyles and Marcus Lee combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds while shooting a combined 17 of 23 from the field. It was particularly good to see Lee bounce back with a strong showing after he had surrendered his platoon minutes to Cauley-Stein in his teammate's career game against Texas.
KEY MOMENT: EKU hung within single digits through the first 9 ½ minutes before the Cats went on a 21-4 run to take a 41-14 lead into halftime. The Colonels went scoreless the final 7:14 of the first half.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Cats held a 48-28 advantage on the boards, including 38 on the defensive side.
QUOTABLE: "We’re in a sport. You don’t know what nice is when you step on the court.” – Kentucky’s Marcus Lee when asked if he sometimes feels good for the opposing team making a basket.
UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 10, in a 7 p.m. ET tipoff against Columbia at Rupp Arena. The game will be broadcast by espn2.
UK Assistant Coach John Robic...
EKU Head Coach Jeff Neubauer...