Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

Recap: Kentucky Wildcats pick up the pace, race past Ottawa in exhibition opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray flirted with a triple-double in the Wildcats' exhibition opener Monday, scoring a team-high 22 points, grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds and dishing out nine assists in a 117-58 win over Ottawa (Kan.) University.

The five-star signee from Canada would have been in rare territory had he notched one more assist. Although exhibition games do not count toward official career stats, Murray came close to joining Chris Mills as the only other player in program history to record a triple-double. Mills had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 1988 game against Austin Peay.

Murray wasn't the only big performer for No. 2 Kentucky in the blowout. Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis went 4-for-5 from 3-point range, scored 17 points and dished out 10 assists, while freshman center Skal Labissiere chipped in with 18 points. Isaiah Briscoe (11), Derek Willis (10) and Marcus Lee (10) also reached double digits for the Cats.

"Unless an NBA team calls us to schedule us that’s the best team we are ever going to play," Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said of UK.

Kentucky shot 60 percent from the field (48 of 80), racking up 32 assists.

"We shared it," UK coach John Calipari said. "I thought we did a fairly good job of executing, being a brand-new team. The spacing was pretty good." 

The Cats also shot 55 percent from the 3-point arc (12 of 22) and held a 59-28 rebounding advantage against the outmanned NAIA opponent, which is the alma mater of UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. Senior guard Marshon Norfleet had a memorable experience in front of 20.743 fans at Rupp Arena, leading the Braves with 20 points.

In this AllWidlcats' "Rapid Recap," we touch on some of the highlights from the UK victory...

WHAT WE LIKED:

For an exhibition game, this was a highly entertaining showing by the Cats. A big factor was Calipari's desire to see his team play at a breakneck pace. Part of that decision was based on helping the Cats get into better game shape, he said, but another was to evaluate how well UK could play both its three-guard starting lineup and a heavy dose of full-court pressure. He could be heard shouting "Go! Go! Go!" throughout the night as UK pulled down defensive rebounds or turned Ottawa over. The fans approved. Calipari said the Cats allowed far too many layups and open 3s as a result of the press, so whether or not they continue to implement it will depend on how they improve in the days to come. He made it clear, however, that he's got the best personnel to press since the 2009-10 squad, his first year at UK.

BY THE NUMBERS:

10 - Steals by UK, including three by Murray, two by Ulis and two by Lee.

25 - Assists by Ulis in the Blue-White Game and the first exhibition.

46% - UK's combined free-throw percentage in the BWG and the first exhibition. The Cats are a shaky 22 of 48 at the stripe.

5:12 - Time remaining in the game when UK reached the century mark on a putback by Alex Poythress.

54-4 - Kentucky's all-time record in exhibition games, including a 13-0 mark under Calipari.

QUOTABLE:

"I didn't know (Murray was so close to triple-double). I knew he was rebounding the ball. Let me explain to you... He hadn't done that in any practice. Like, it's a mistake that he did it because if he doesn't rebound now, I'm going to be all over him." -- UK coach John Calipari. 

UP NEXT:

Kentucky plays its final exhibition game leading into the regular season on Friday against Kentucky State at Rupp Arena. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. ET with broadcast on ESPNU.


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