UK wins 93-61 over Northwood in first exhibition



By David Schuh | @kernelschuh

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In its first game against a real opponent, the UK basketball team cruised past Northwood, 93-61 Thursday night at Rupp Arena.

The Cats showed flashes of solid play, but also their inexperience throughout the night.

“We were better than I thought we’d be,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “But we’re way away from being the way we need to be.”

The first half was a sloppy one for UK, as they turned the ball over 11 times, nine of which were from freshman.

The defense was inconsistent as well. The Cats, while not as bad as Calipari’s “awful” claim on Wednesday, showed poor spacing and rotation at times.

“It takes some time because everyone was the best player on their high school team,” sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow said. “We know what each person does best but we’re trying to figure each other out.”

It’s a luxury for a young team, however, to have two 7-footers inside to clean up mistakes.

“Man, that’s spoiling us, I’m telling you,” freshman guard Archie Goodwin said. “They’re always our relief and we need it.”

The second half was a much cleaner one for the Cats on both sides of the ball. Harrow seemed to gain control of the offense, and the numbers showed. The team shot 61 percent from the field for the game and Harrow finished with 15 points, five assists and four steals.

It was only the first exhibition, but early on, it appears that Goodwin could be the top scorer for the Cats. He was aggressive, attempting 12 field goals and eight free throws. His 22 points, which led all scorers, was partly attained on isolation plays, something that has not been typical of a Calipari-coached offense.

Freshman forward Nerlens Noel had a quiet first half, but made up for it late, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

All five starters for UK finished with double-digit points.

Calipari used several different lineup combinations Thursday night, searching for the right team for the right part of the game.

“It does not matter who starts, it matters who finishes the game,” Calipari said.

Northwood head coach Rollie Massimino was making his first trip back to Lexington since leading Villanova to the national championship in Rupp Arena 27 years ago.

“Every year we try to play two outstanding Division I teams,” Massimino said. “I asked John if he would like to play, and give us an opportunity to come back to Rupp. He was very gracious.”

The Cats will conclude preseason play with an exhibition game against Transylvania University Monday night at Rupp Arena. The game will begin at 8 p.m.

View a photo slideshow and videos of the game.