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Cats stave off IUP in tougher than expected exhibition encounter


By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Kentucky got all it could handle from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in its final exhibition game Friday night.

The second-ranked Wildcats improved to 6-0 in exhibition games this season with an 86-64 win over the Crimson Hawks, an NCAA Division II squad based in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Kentucky opens the regular season against No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

“We’ll build and we’ve got a couple days to prepare for this next, which is going to be a hard game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Now it appears it’s going to be even harder than I thought.”

Indiana Pennsylvania forced a pair of ties and lead changes and led for 16 seconds in the first half. Kentucky led for most of the contest, but failed to put the game beyond reach. The Wildcats struggled on defense and committed a game-high 14 turnovers.

Reid Travis had a double-double in Kentucky’s win over IUP Friday night at Rupp Arena. (Kentucky Today/Tammie Brown)

Kentucky senior Reid Travis carried the load for the Wildcats and had a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Travis led the Wildcats with 15 points and eight rebounds in the opening half. Travis and Tyler Herro combined for 27 points in the opening half. Travis was pleased with his final tally but happier with his production on the boards.

“That’s something I really pride myself on, is hitting the glass,” Travis said. “I necessarily want to say a double-double is my goal every game, but I know if I’m active, have energy and crashing the glass and just play, things just work themselves out like that,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll have more nights like this.”

PJ Washington followed Travis with 20 points and six rebounds. Herro connected on five of Kentucky’s nine 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. Keldon Johnson rounded out four players in double figures with 11 points.

Travis and Washington started both exhibition contests and finished in double figures. The two forwards joined Ashton Hagans, Herro and Keldon Johnson and formed Kentucky’s starting five against the Crimson Hawks.

Jacobo Diaz led the Crimson Hawks with 17 points, followed by Malik Miller with 16, Willem Brandwijk scored 14 and Dante Lombardi rounded out four players in double figures.

“I think we left with a lot of respect,” Indiana University Penns coach Joe Lombardi said. “I think Kentucky has a very good team. I’m glad we were able to challenge them and I think it prepared them (for the rest of the season).”

Calipari agreed.

“That was a good team, a team that beat Morehead and Joe’s right, no one wants to play them,” Calipari said. “Back in Pittsburgh, no one will play them. They won’t play them. I don’t even know why I played them, to be honest with you, I must have lost my mind. When I saw the Morehead State tape I was thinking, what was I thinking? No good deed goes unpunished. Just know that.”

SUPPORTING STOOPS

Calipari won’t be practicing his squad and will be watching the tube when the football team takes on Georgia Saturday. The Wildcats and Bulldogs will compete for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.

“I’m happy for Mark and his staff (and) I’m happy for those players,” Calipari said. “I’m so happy the guys that came back can say it’s an experience that I’ll live with the rest of my life. They’re a team that feels good and confident about themselves … these guys are balling now and Georgia’s really good, like Georgia’s really good. You ready for this? We’re really good too. Our defense, woof. So it should be a great game. We’re not going to practice around that time because I know I want to see it and I’m imagining our players will want to see it so they get a chance to go over.”

BAKER HEALING

Kentucky guard Jemarl Baker missed his second straight exhibition game because of a knee injury. Baker sat out last season following knee surgery.

Gametracker: Kentucky vs. Duke, 9:30 p.m. Champions Classic at Indianapolis. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.

em>Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.


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