The Kentucky Wildcats breezed through its second and final exhibition game of the season, besting the Spartans of South Carolina Upstate 81-50. Freshman Perry Stevenson led the way for Kentucky with 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots in only 24 minutes of play. Stevenson was a perfect 4-4 from the field, 3-4 from the free throw line and added a couple of steals and a couple of assists for good measure.
"Certainly tonight was a different look, a different set of circumstances," Tubby Smith said, "Eddie Payne is a good friend of mine and I knew his team would scrap and claw until the bitter end. We need to learn to play – not worry about the score and just play. That's something tonight, I thought we got away from sharing the basketball and playing unselfishly. A lot of it had to do with South Carolina-Upstate. They did some things, denied ball reversal and pressured us a little bit. They were a very physical team. It was a good test, it really helped us a lot. We did some good things out there. Certainly Perry Stevenson had a heck of a (stat) line. It was tough that Bobby (Perry) couldn't get a score. Again, the turnover bug hurt us again. We tried to do a little too much and that's always a problem when you try to do too much. This is a good chance for us to go back and evaluate. We didn't get out and extend our defense much, we pretty much played half court defense. We didn't run a lot of plays and a lot of that has to do with us trying to get our guys to run more. Foul trouble was a real problem for us again and it's something we have to work on."
Kentucky opened a big lead in the early stages of the game. The outcome of the contest was never in question.
"It's the first time we've seen any competition. I don't know that there was anything that I didn't know," Smith said, "There were things we wanted to see that we did. We're a very good passing team. That's something I saw and I think we can be a very good passing team. That concerns me tonight with only 13 assists after having 27 the other night. We needed a game like this where it was a little testy and I had to be a little testy. The guys had to respond. That's part of it. They aren't all going to be blowout games the rest of the year. There are going to be heated, tough, physical games. So, we've got to learn how to handle that and I thought that's something we haven't seen yet."
The Wildcats, ranked 22nd in the USA Today Preseason poll, begin action for real against Miami of Ohio on Wednesday, November 15 in Rupp Arena.