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Exhibition opener a teaching tool for No. 2 Kentucky, Transy

Transylvania guard Michael Jefferson (10) drives to the basket against Kentucky’s PJ Washington in an exhibition game Friday night at Rupp Arena. (Kentucky Today/Tammie Brown)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Kentucky is still growing and learning and far from reaching its peak.

The Wildcats had little trouble defeating Transylvania in its exhibition opener Friday night, but the team’s 94-66 win over the Pioneers provided some teaching moments for John Calipari as the second-ranked Wildcats brace for their season-opener against No. 4 Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic in less than two weeks.

“It’s a great lesson,” Calipari said. “This will be a great teaching tape … What they ended up doing and showing these guys is if the other team plays harder than you, you’re not going to look good, and it doesn’t matter what level it is. You have to figure out how hard is this guy playing. I’ve got to play harder than he plays and you have to come in the game with the idea, I’m going to make him chase me. I’m not chasing him.”

Transylvania coach Brian Lane said his team’s main priority was to help the Wildcats get better.

“Our job (was to) help them get better and I think we were able to do that,” Lane said.

EJ Montgomery came off the bench and scored 14 points to lead seven players in double figures. Quade Green, Nick Richards, and Keldon Johnson followed Montgomery with 13 points each. Reid Travis had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. PJ Washington had 12 points, followed by Ashton Hagans chipped in with 10 points.

Calipari started Washington, Richards, and Travis, along with guards Green and Immanuel Quickley. Ashton Hagans made his first appearance after Quickley picked up two fouls less than five minutes into the contest. Quickley scored three points but dished out a team-high four assists, followed by Hagans with three. The Wildcats finished with 13 assists and shot 57 percent from the floor.

As expected, Kentucky dominated the glass and outrebounced the Pioneers 52-18. Paced by Travis, Washington, and Quickley, the Wildcats collected 36 defensive rebounds.

Travis joined Hagans, Montgomery, Tyler Herro, and Johnson as Kentucky’s five starters in the second half, but Calipari isn’t settled on a rotation just yet.

“I put (that group in) at the 16-minute mark (of the first half) and they really played and played together and was aggressive,” Calipari said. “And when they started the second half, they weren’t like that.”

Madison Southern graduate Michael Jefferson, a sophomore, led the Pioneers with 14 points.


Kentucky honored longtime athletics director C.M. Newton prior to the exhibition opener. Newton served as A.D. at Kentucky from 1989-2000 and also was men’s basketball coach at Transylvania before moving on to Alabama and Vanderbilt. Newton passed away in June at the age of 88.

Newton’s son Martin, the Athletics Director at Samford, took part in the ceremony.

“He had a heck of a run,” Calipari said. “Dude had a heck of a run and affected basketball in a positive way on so many levels. It’s incredible. And he’s one of ours. You know, he’s Kentucky’s own.”

Lane agreed.

“C.M. made every person that was around him feel special,” he said. “He came to our game in 2006 when we were going to the Sweet Sixteen and was able to come in and talk to our team afterward. … he was just an unbelievable role model for all of us and it was exciting to be able to play this game in his honor.”


Kentucky sophomore guard Jermarl Baker sat out because of a knee injury but is expected to return to practice next week. Baker missed all of last season because of a knee injury.

“His knee swelled up,” Calipari said. “He didn’t practice for two days.”


Transylvania’s roster features 30 players including 15 from Kentucky. Transy seniors Bo Schuh and Cooper Theobald were juniors on Covington Catholic’s 2014 squad that won the state championship at Rupp Arena. Theobald scored 13 points and Schuh scored nine for Transy.

Gametracker: Indiana University of Pennsylvania at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Friday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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