UK wins first game in Bahamas


Kentucky freshman forward Nick Richards listens to Kentucky’s introductions prior to the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky was defeated 61-58. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Roman West

Kentucky took the floor – and won – for the first time this season after defeating the Bahamas National Team 85-61. Kentucky was led by Tyler Herro, who finished the game with an unofficial 16 points and a couple of emphatic dunks.

Quade Green, Keldon Johnson, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley and PJ Washington were the ones given the starting nod by tonight’s head coach, Kenny Payne. The group got off to a hot start, scoring the first 13 points of the game. Richards was able to show what he’s been working on since the last time we saw him, making sky hooks and 15-foot baseline jump shots look easy.

The first half gave us the first bucket from early fan favorite, Herro, on a breakaway dunk that showed off his bounce. Freshman forward EJ Montgomery also got his first unofficial points as a Wildcat during the first half on a put-back off a Herro miss.

The Bahamas National Team was able to cut Kentucky’s lead to as little as 27-25 in the half, but freshman guard Ashton Hagans was able to help push the lead to 37-29 by controlling the game on the defensive end of the floor with steals on three of four straight possessions. Hagans also had good plays on offense, including following his own miss and finishing the put-back reverse layup.

The half ended with Washington getting into a scuffle with a player from the Bahamas National Team. Kentucky got to shoot free throws after a technical was assessed on the opposing team, giving the Cats a 42-37 lead.

Less than four minutes into the second half, Kentucky was down 44-43. Herro made a jumper the first possession they were down to get the lead back. That bucket was the start of a 13-3 run from the Wildcats.

The game saw struggles from graduate transfer Reid Travis. Travis was a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 player before coming to Kentucky this season, but he had some major offensive struggles, including missing an uncontested dunk. While he did struggle with scoring the ball, he had no trouble rebounding it, pulling down 14 rebounds.

The second half also gave fans the first Brad Calipari sighting of the season. He was the tenth player to see minutes, but could drop another spot in the rotation once second-year man Jemarl Baker returns from his knee injury that sidelined him all of last season.

After a Calipari three, Herro had another breakaway dunk that had the crowd rocking and old school UK fans reminiscing of Rex Chapman.

Kentucky’s next game in paradise is set for August 9th, at 7 p.m.