Cats struggle to shoot, but bigs dominate Transy


Freshman forward EJ Montgomery goes to the rim during the game against Transylvania on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

The UK men’s basketball team started its exhibition season off with a victory over the neighboring Transylvania Pioneers, beating them 94-66 Friday night.

The Pioneers have no players on their roster taller than 6-foot-8, and it showed. UK out-rebounded its Division III neighbor 52-18, as forwards Reid Travis and Nick Richards combined for 18 boards on their own.

UK’s strength was also demonstrated inside the paint, where they owned a lopsided scoring advantage. They crushed Transy on the interior, outscoring them 62-24. To make matters worse for the Pioneers, their lone 6-foot-8 player, Luke Schroeder, picked up three fouls in the first half, and a fourth immediately to start the second. The next biggest player to get minutes for the Pioneers was 6-foot-6, the same size as UK wing Keldon Johnson.

Because of this, the Cats didn’t have much need for an outside shot. They didn’t make one until about midway through the second half, when guard Quade Green hit a corner three that bounced on both the rim and the backboard.

UK’s usual (or predicted) shooter, Tyler Herro, had a cold game against the Pioneers. He shot just 1-8 from the floor in 22 minutes and didn’t make any shots from deep. Because of his shooting struggle, and a precautionary rest day for Jemarl Baker, the Cats’ deep attack only resulted in the one made three.

In the first half, UK’s athletic dominance wasn’t instantly apparent. Head coach John Calipari opened the game by starting forwards Travis, Richards and Washington, with Washington playing the small forward position.

The Cats didn’t find immediate success with this lineup, but once Richards, Washington and Quickley switched with Ashton Hagans, Johnson and E.J. Montgomery, the Cats jumped out on a 12-0 run to take their permanent double-digit lead.

From there, the Cats asserted themselves and kept Transylvania out of striking distance, but it was far from perfect. After putting up 49 points in the first half, they followed it up with a somewhat lackluster 45 points in the second, mostly by relaxed defense at the end of the blowout.

Seven Cats finished in double figures: Hagans (10), Johnson (13), Montgomery (14), Washington (12), Green (13), Richards (13) and Travis (12). Travis also added 10 rebounds to give him the lone double-double on the day.

UK will be in action on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. against Indiana University of Pennsylvania before heading to Indianapolis to take on No. 4 Duke on Nov. 6.