A rematch of Thanksgiving week for college basketball season was the perfect setting for the Kentucky Wildcats, as 10 different players made their blue-and-white debuts in an 81-45 victory over Morehead State, the first Bluegrass Showcase 2020 game at Rupp Arena.
Four freshmen – Devin Askew, BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke and Isaiah Jackson got their first college debut with Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr – as the 10th-ranked Wildcats used his length on the defensive side to smother an outclassed Morehead State team that struggled offensively.
Freshman Lance Ware, Cam’Ron Fletcher and transfers Davion Mintz and Jacob Toppin also saw quality minutes with former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Dontaie Allen making his long-awaited appearance in a Wildcat uniform, entering the game at 4: 53. Allen, who missed all of last season with injury, scored his first points on a three-pointer with 3:34 left in the first half. Sophomore Keion Brooks, Kentucky’s lone returner last season, missed the first game with a calf injury.
The Wildcats quickly took a 15-4 lead on a three Mintz pointer and extended the lead to 24-11 on an Askew three with 7:45 left in the half. Boston completed a traditional three-point play on a layup and free throw to extend the lead to 28-11 as Kentucky took a 45-26 lead in the locker room at the half.
After playing the first half without a shot or rebound attempt, Sarr came to life in the second half, scoring his first points on a Mintz lob dunk, then hitting a pair of jumpers to finish 4 of 6 on the ground for eight. points.
Boston led four double-digit players with 15 points. Clarke and Askew finished with 12 apiece, while Mintz added 10. The Wildcats shot 57 percent from the field and had 18 assists.
The score of the box
While there are plenty of contenders for the MVP when the season opens, Clarke gets the nod for his ability to reach the edge and shake things up. With a quick first step, Clarke showed good judgment leading to the basket and appears to have a natural ability to score the ball, showing a solid pull up pull. He played all but 54 seconds in the first half and was also impressive to play the point guard when needed.
As expected, Boston was also a scoring threat and Mintz, Askew and Allen all showed the ability to hit all three and expand defense. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Fletcher, who finished with nine points, one of which was three.
Kentucky, 1-0, is back in action Sunday afternoon against Richmond at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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