LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Chuck Hayes wasted no time ensuring his place among Kentucky fan favorites.
The freshman forward from Modesto, Calif., delivered a double-double in his debut for the Wildcats, scoring 12 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds in Kentucky's 107-80 exhibition victory over Nike Elite on Tuesday at Rupp Arena.
"This state's going to fall in love with Chuck," said senior point guard J.P. Blevins, "because he's relentless and the kid's got a lot of talent."
"I think we knew he was pretty good when he got here," senior forward Tayshaun Prince said. "But we didn't know he'd be this good... He could really help this team."
Hayes, who was 5-for-11 from the field and also contributed four steals, wasted little time in winning over his new coach.
"I thought Chuck Hayes was just awesome with 13 rebounds," Tubby Smith said. "He really knows how to play and understands the game."
The Cats, who were playing the first of two exhibition games before tipping off the regular season Nov. 15 against Western Kentucky, got double-figure scoring from six players. Junior guard Keith Bogans led UK with 19 points on the strength of 5-for-8 shooting from long range, and Prince, who was named to the Associated Press' preseason All-America team earlier in the day, followed with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Hayes, Blevins and Jules Camara each chipped in with 12, while Marvin Stone added 10. Kentucky shot 55 percent (41 of 74) from the field to help offset a poor night from the foul line (16 of 26, 62 percent).
"I thought it was a good showing for our kids and another chance to evaluate where we are," Smith said. "We did some good things and some poor things, but more good things."
Nike Elite, which has lost all four of its games this season, was paced by former Oklahoma guard Kelly Newton with 15 points.
Kentucky's defense held the traveling squad to 41 percent (28 of 69) shooting from the field and forced 26 turnovers, many coming in the man-to-man full-court press that sparked the Cats after a sluggish start.
The lead never eclipsed single digits until the final 3:35 of the first half when Cliff Hawkins ignited an 8-0 run with two of his four steals, and Camara tossed in four straight points.
Kentucky led 52-38 going into the half, and turned up the pressure to start the second period.
An Erik Daniels drive and dunk at the 14-minute mark sparked a 25-8 run as the Nike Elite squad, playing for the fourth time in six days, began to fatigue. Camara scored six early in the spurt and Bogans capped it with back-to-back 3-pointers to give UK a commanding 87-58 advantage.
"I thought we did a good job there of forcing turnovers," Smith said. "We didn't play but one press, man-to-man, really. We only used our White press and our zone press maybe once or twice. We wanted to just make the guys work on their basic fundamentals of guarding their man.
"We did a better job in the second half than we did in the first half, but I was pleased with our press."
Smith cited free throw shooting and rebounding --- with the exception of Hayes and Prince --- as two areas he'd need to address in practice this week.
"I see Keith Bogans had as many rebounds as me... which was zero," he quipped.
"Coach is going to be all over me," Bogans said. "But I guarantee I get double figures on Sunday."