Cats take down Stephen F. Austin in season opener


Senior guard Mychal Mulder goes up for a shot during the game against Stephen F. Austin on Friday, November 11, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

By Phillip Hawkins

Basketball season is officially underway as No. 2 UK took down the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 87-64 on Friday night at Rupp.

The bench was the story for the Cats in the first half. As a whole the bench accounted for 23 of the 48 points scored by the team at halftime. 10 of those key bench points came from 6’9” freshman forward Wenyen Gabriel who went five for five from the field at half.

It was a short lived first half for freshman forward Bam Adebayo after picking up two quick fouls in the first minute of the game. Big man Isaac Humphries did a good job filling in for Bam, tallying seven points and seven rebounds in the first half.

Senior forward Derek Willis got off to a hot start that got the team rolling to start the game. Willis accounted for 10 of the team’s first 14 points. Willis would finish the game with 15 points to go along with five rebounds.

High point man on the night for the Cats was sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe finished with 17 points, going 6-for-11 from the field including 1-for-3 from three.

“I think this is an unselfish team,” Briscoe said following the game about the ball movement. “We all play for each other and that is what is going to take us to the next level.”

Freshman guard De’Aaron Fox was the talk of the night as he made history for the Cats. Fox finished the game with a double-double of 12 points and 12 assists. Fox now has the most assists by a UK player in a career debut and also has the most assists in a season opener in school history.

It was a slow, foul-troubled start for freshman Malik Monk who struggled early going 0-for-3 from the field, and playing only five minutes due to foul trouble in the first half. In the second half he seemed to come alive finishing the game with 10 points.

The story of the game for the Lumberjacks was junior forward Leon Gilmore III and junior guard Isaiah Traylor. Gilmore III would have a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Traylor would lead the Lumberjacks in scoring with 15 points with three rebounds.

Four of the five starters for the Cats would go on to finish the game in double figures leading the team to the win.

“What I like is five guys in double figures, and another two with nine, and eight,” head coach John Calipari said following the win.

Coming up, the Cats will play two games in the next four days with the first being Sunday night against Canisus at 6 p.m. at Rupp Arena.