LEXINGTON, Ky. -- John Calipari has beckoned his inconsistent Kentucky team for a 40-minute effort this season. On Saturday against Portland, the Wildcats may have given its demanding head coach the closest thing to it.
Four Kentucky players scored in double figures and the Wildcats held the visiting Pilots to 27 percent shooting from the field en route to a 74-46 win at Rupp Arena.
Although a little rough around the edges at times -- the Wildcats hit just 12 of 22 free throws and turned the ball over 14 times -- Kentucky (6-3) delivered a consistent effort in each half against Portland (3-6) which had nearly upset No. 21 UNLV on Tuesday.
"We showed a little bit of progress today," Calipari said. "We got better... We made strides, but we're still not where we need to be.
"I told my team eight to 10 teams are better than all the rest of the teams in the country. Eight to 10 have a real chance. Do you want to be one of those teams? What are you willing to do to be one of those teams?"
"We're just trying to get that mindset of having a killer instinct when you come into a game knowing that everybody we play is going to bring their best effort against us," said UK sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer, who scored 12 points.
Freshmen Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin paced UK with 15 points apiece. Senior guard Julius Mays followed with 13 points. Freshman center Nerlens Noel flirted with another triple-double, scoring seven points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking a career-high seven shots.
Kentucky also got its best performance to date from sophomore guard Ryan Harrow, who scored eight points and dished out six assists.
"I was happy for him," Calipari said. "He did some good things."
"I'm just starting to listen to (Calipari) more and accept what he is saying and do whatever is best for the team," Harrow said.
The Cats used a 16-0 run midway through the first half to turn a tie game into a comfortable 26-10 advantage. They led 35-20 going into halftime.
Portland shaved five points off the deficit early in the second half, but UK responded with a 9-0 run capped by a Poythress dunk to extend its lead to 48-29 at the 11:30 mark. The Pilots never threatened again.
Forward Ryan Nicholas led Portland with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, but UK held a commanding 42-32 advantage on the boards.
The Wildcats have seven days between games now with finals week looming. They return to action next Saturday when they play host to Lipscomb at Rupp Arena.
* Kentucky leads the series 4-0, including 3-0 in Lexington. UK is now 7-1 all-time against teams from the current alignment of the West Coast Conference.
* UK is 25-0 under Calipari when limiting opponents to 55 or fewer points.
* The Wildcats blocked a season-high 12 shots, the fifth time this season they have registered double-digit rejections.
* Poythress hit six of eight shots from the field, lifting his season percentage to 69.1.
* Noel has at least six rebounds in every game this season.
Cats pound Portland
Gene's Page Top Stories
Schaefer Contract; Men's Golf Coach SearchMississippi State athletic director John Cohen is in the process of working on a new contract for head women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer and hiring a new head coach for men's…
Gene's PageYesterday at 8:09 PM
Updated: Pilkington Stays on Start ScheduleThat short rest Konnor Pilkington was going to be throwing on? It just got longer and the coach is happier.
Gene's PageYesterday at 6:29 PM
Bulldogs Add Late 2017 SigneeWhile most members of the 2017 signing class are finishing up their final exams, IMG Academy tight end Powers Warren just made his college decision. After a whirlwind courtship,…
Gene's PageYesterday at 11:02 AM
2017 Baseball Signee Jared Liebelt UpdateAn analysis of Mississippi State class of 2017 signee Jared Liebelt, a right-hand pitcher from Waubonsee (IL) Community College.
Gene's PageYesterday at 4:54 AM
Rooker is First Dog SEC Player of YearThe SEC has been handing out a Player of the Year recognition since 1993. It only took 25 years for a Diamond Dog to win it.
Gene's PageMonday at 12:30 PM