Kentucky Wildcats open season with win over Stephen F. Austin

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Two members of Kentucky's ballyhooed freshman class were rendered mostly ineffective due to foul trouble in Friday's season opener against Stephen F. Austin.

The No. 2 Wildcats did not skip a beat.

Despite getting very little from center Bam Adebayo and guard Malik Monk, UK showed it may have some quality depth this year in 87-64 win over the Lumberjacks, a team coming off three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.  

Picking up the slack were senior forward Derek Willis and sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe, who scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, to pace five Cats in double figures. De'Aaron Fox followed with 12 points, while Wenyen Gabriel and Monk each added 10.

"That's who we are," UK head coach John Calipari said of the balanced scoring.

"He makes young kids play old really fast," SFA head coach Kyle Keller said of his UK counterpart. "He is a special coach."

Sophomore center Isaac Humphries, who entered the game after Adebayo picked up two fouls in the first 43 seconds of action, contributed nine points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.

Kentucky held the Lumberjacks to 44 percent shooting from the field and forced 28 turnovers.

"You can't simulate their length and quickness on defense," Keller said. '... I've never been in a game where the court felt so small, as long as those jokers are."

Isaiah Traylor led the Lumberjacks (0-1) with 15 points. Leon Gilmore III added 12 points and 11 rebounds for SFA.

In this All Wildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some highlights from the Cats' win...


Derek Willis, Kentucky -- The senior wing stepped up when the Cats encountered early adversity in the form of Adebayo's foul trouble. He responded with 10 of his points in the first eight-plus minutes as UK quickly built a double-digit lead. Afterward, the Mount Washington (Ky.) native said he felt like he is "in a good place" going into his final year with the Cats.


-8 - Kentucky lost the battle on the glass, 36-28.

12 - Assists by UK freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox, breaking Kyle Macy's school record (10) for assists in a player's debut. 

32 - UK points off SFA turnovers.

38 - Game winning streak by UK at Rupp Arena.

31 of 62- Field-goal shooting for Cats, 50 percent for the game.

95-19 - Kentucky's all-time record in season openers.


"I'm so proud of Derek Willis... He's the first one at practice and the last one to leave. That went from I'd blow the whistle, we're done with practice, and he'd run to the door, and I'd say 'Derek, can I talk to you guys first before you leave?' And now he's on a mission."


It's a quick turnaround for Kentucky, which returns to Rupp Arena on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET for a matchup with Canisius. The Cats are in the midst of three games in five days to begin the season, concluding Tuesday against Michigan State in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

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