New Balance: Cats lifted to impressive win via complete, all-around effort


Kentucky Wildcats guard Brandon Boston Jr. (3) lays the ball up during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State men’s basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 81-45. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Coach Cal may have been worried about how this team would open the year when he spoke with the media on Monday morning. But after this dominant showing, he should sleep like a baby before his Thanksgiving feast.

Just as the women’s team did earlier in the afternoon, Kentucky did what it was expected to do against an in-state foe, defeating Morehead State 81-45 in its season opener. What was different though is the parity on display.

Seven players totaled eight or more points; four of them notched double figures. The common denominator? All of them had not previously played a game for the Cats. Despite the inexperience in blue and white, everyone who saw the floor outside of garbage time was a valuable contributor in some form or fashion, demonstrating just how talented and deep this team is at every spot.

“We looked like an organized basketball team,” John Calipari said postgame. “I’ve got… two or three guys that have to create new habits, and if I can get that, I like this group.”

B.J. Boston paced the crew in points (15), rebounds (7) and minutes (32), while Terrence Clarke and Devin Askew tied for the team-high in assists (4). Clarke also had the most steals (3); Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson each knocked away two shots to lead in blocks. The camaraderie was evident after not being so on Sunday, which sounds like an issue of the tedious nature practice over an extended offseason can bring.

“We have been playing against each other for five months, everybody knows the plays,” Cam’Ron Fletcher said. “The team we played didn’t know what we were going to do, so we executed.”

“We [were] just ready to play as a team against other opponents,” Clarke said. “We went out today and just played as hard as we can… that was our main objective.” 

For tonight at least, no Keion Brooks proved to be no problem. The lone returning player who took the hardwood in 2019-20 has been plagued by a calf injury for months that ultimately held him out of today’s contest. Cal deemed him unlikely to suit up in any of the Bluegrass Showcase games earlier in the week, but his comments following the win made it seem he’d be out even longer.

“When we start talking all these next games we’re playing, I did these guys a disservice. I did my team a disservice,” Calipari said. “Without Keion… this [schedule’s] totally a different deal, and basically not really fair for these guys.”

“We got a couple days to get ready… for a really hard game on Sunday (vs. Richmond), And then we got another one, two days later (vs. Kansas) that’s ridiculous,” he continued. “We got nine games and seven of them are ridiculous… it’s going to be a tough road.”

He then added that any blame for upcoming appearances needs to be directed toward him, not the players.

“I would tell the fans: don’t you be mad at these kids,” he said. “Don’t be mad at them. Be mad at me.”

It may only be for one night, or one four-day stretch leading into Sunday’s game against the Spiders, but at the moment, all is right in the world of BBN. In a year where everyone has experienced tragedy or gloom, that’s something to be thankful for.