Kentucky led by only nine at the break, but an 11-0 run to start the second half brought the crowd at Rupp Arena alive. The Wildcats forced turnovers, moved the ball well offensively, rebounded, scored points in the paint, and played with a confidence that we had yet to see thus far into the season. With 30 seconds remaining in the game, freshman Adam Williams, logging his first minutes of the season, flew through the paint after a Preston LeMaster 3-point attempt to slam home the rebound and score his first career points as a Wildcat, stretching Kentucky's lead to 30 points.
Perry scored 22 points, shooting 8-12 from the field and 3-5 from beyond the arc. His effort was aided by whom other than Rajon Rondo, who nearly finished with another double-double scoring 13 points and dishing out 9 assists. But the most impressive aspect of Rondo's game on Friday was how he scored those 13 points. Rondo, whose only criticism has been on his free throw shooting and his lack of a perimeter jumper, stepped up and knocked down four out of five from the foul line and all three of his 3-point shot attempts.
Larry Blair led Liberty with an impressive performance, scoring 26 of the Flames' 51 points. But without any type of assistance from his teammates against and overwhelming team like Kentucky, his efforts were almost in vain.
Through the first five games, Tubby Smith has experimented with different rotations trying to find the right fit for this season's team. Coach Smith may have found his starting 5. For the second game in a row, Bobby Perry and Ravi Moss have gotten the nod alongside Sims, Sparks, and Rondo. The Cats shot 42% for the game on 30-71 shooting. Better than average 3-point shooting delighted the home crowd again, as the Cats converted on 11-26 from the outside, but failures at the charity stripe continue to plague the team. Kentucky only made good on 56% of their free tosses.
Kentucky's defense continued to impress, holding the Flames to just 32% shooting and forcing them into sloppy play and numerous turnovers.
Joe Crawford did not suit up for the contest against Liberty. He is still working to overcome the knee bruise and hip pointer that have been nagging him all season. Coach Smith hopes that Crawford will be ready to play on Tuesday night against the school where he played his college ball, High Point.
The Cats improve to 4-1 on the season. Liberty falls to 1-2, and will travel to Longwood on Wednesday night.