Cats offense shows its potential

By Jordan Ondrof

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The Cats kicked off their 2015-16 season in style with a  117-58 win over Ottawa in the first of two exhibition games. After being ranked No. 2 in the NCAA pre-season poll, the Cats put on a show to make their case for the No. 1 spot.

The game seemed to be over before it began as the Cats scored 13 points before Ottawa was able to put one in the net.

“Unless an NBA team calls us to schedule us that’s the best team we are ever going to play,” Ottawa head coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “Right now I feel like I’m back in college and I just took a really hard test, and I didn’t do very well on it, but it’s over with.”

The effort was lead by UK’s three starting guards in Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, who combined for 50 of the teams 117 points.

“They’re unselfish. They’re all skilled. They can attack the basket,” head coach John Calipari said. “You can play a little more random yet be organized. Again, we needed to press. We did it for two reasons, conditioning. I wanted us just to keep guys in and let them try to see where they are if we had to play a full game. Obviously not there yet.”

Murray had a stand-out performance as he made nearly every shot he took and maneuvered around defenders with ease. He lead in points (17) and rebounds (7) at half  and trailed only Ulis in assists with 6.

The point guard from Canada was just one assist shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists.

“Everyone is going to have his day, whether it’s points, assists, rebounds, it doesn’t matter,” Murray said. “Everyone is going to have their day where they’re just locked in. There are a lot of opportunities.”

Ulis finished with a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists.

Despite being overshadowed by Murray and Ulis, big men Alex Poythress and Skal Labissere dominated in the post. Labissere finished with 18 points but only grabbed 5 rebounds.

“Still I thought let go of the rope a few times,” Calipari said. “Had balls tipped from him for no reason. Rebounds he had, didn’t grab. But he’s made unbelievable strides. Believe me, he is way better than he was a month ago.”

Poythress was only able to get 8 points but finished with 6 rebounds, something Calipari wanted him to focus on.

“He is I’m guessing 80 percent of where he needs to be for us to be good. But he’s 80 percent and he’s coming off the injury. I love the fact that the fans went crazy when he went in. It lets him know we’re all here for you, we want you to do well,” Calipari said.

Despite Poythress’ limitations, his leadership is valued by the team and his importance is known.

“Coach reminds him every day in practice how important he is to the team,” Briscoe said. “He’s the group guy and we need him to rebound and do things like that. Once he knows his role, everything else will fall into place and we will be that much better.”

The Cats play their second exhibition game on Friday against Kentucky State.