Wiltjer’s hot hand leads UK to 88-50 win over Lipscomb

UK forward Kyle Wiltjer jumps to shoot the ball during the UK men’s basketball vs. Lipscomb University at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, December 15, 2012. Photo by Tessa Lighty

By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

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Sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer scored 23 points off the bench as UK ended its second week of “Camp Cal” with an 88-50 victory over Lipscomb at Rupp Arena.

Wiltjer drained seven three point attempts and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds to earn his first career double-double.

“I kind of just went into the game having a mentality (of) I just wanted to get some rebounds and kind of mix it up,” Wiltjer said.

After UK head coach John Calipari elected to start Wiltjer on the sidelines, he was soon called into action along with junior guard Jarrod Polson to inject some energy after a slow start from the Cats.

Wiltjer’s first act of the afternoon was to grab a rebound, which was soon followed by back-to-back three pointers and a steal on defense.

Calipari continued his recent habit of rolling through substitutions at the first sign of a mistake from one of his players.

Freshman guard Archie Goodwin saw more time in the seat next to his coach than playing for him in the first half, as two early fouls left him struggling to find his recent good form.

While Harrow and Polson combined for 15 points in 25 first half minutes, Goodwin went scoreless in 7 minutes of playing time as UK took a 43-29 lead into the halftime interval.

The effects of “Camp Cal”—extra conditioning workouts over the past two weeks—were prevalent in the second half, as UK began to pull away from the Bisons.

“It shows how important extra work is,” Wiltjer said.

Wiltjer’s scoring touch, absent in recent games, continued into the second half, as did the fight and heart Calipari has longed for in recent weeks.

No less than three Cats dived for a loose ball moments after Wiltjer drilled his fifth three of the afternoon just over six minutes into the half.

A few moments later Wiltjer hit his sixth long ball of the game to give the home squad a 22-point advantage that the Bisons couldn’t overtake.

Lipscomb was unable to match the Cats effort and intensity as the gulf in fitness become more evident as the half wore on.

UK’s second half performance showed hustle and grit Calipari felt were lacking so far this season.

Freshman center Nerlens Noel earned a standing ovation from those in attendance when fouling out with nine rebounds, seven blocks, seven points and four steals late in the game.

Harrow showed continued signs of improvement following his prolonged absence from the team, scoring a season-high 12 points in 31 minutes.

“I thought Ryan did well today. He’s got a ways to go,” Calipari said of Harrow’s performance. “I thought he did better today, I told him he needs to get 10 or 12 points a game. That’s all we need from him.”

Goodwin came to life in the latter stages of the second half, to finish with 10 points, two of which came from a highlight alley-oop dunk following a lob pass from graduate guard Julius Mays.

Polson failed to score in the second half as he finished with seven points in 15 minutes of play.

Freshman forward Alex Poythress added 11 points and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein scored seven points and a tied Goodwin and Mays for a game-high four assists.

Mays also contributed seven points and six rebounds in a game-high 30 minutes of action.

UK will endure another week of “Camp Cal” before facing Marshall on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m.

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