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No. 2 Kentucky eager to meet Transy in ‘Battle on Broadway’


Kentucky Today

It’s not the official opener, but Kentucky is anxious to open the exhibition season.

The second-ranked Wildcats will take on Transylvania in the first of two exhibition games Friday night at Rupp Arena. Although the game doesn’t count, the players are eager to face an outside opponent, signifying the season is drawing nearer.

“We’re just excited to play against somebody else,” freshman guard Immanuel Quickley said Thursday. “We’ve been going at each other in practice (during the preseason) every single day. Going against somebody else is going to really be exciting.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari also is getting closer to a rotation and hinted that Reid Travis, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards have leverage on three of the five starting spots. The two guard slots appear to be up for grabs between returnee Quade Green, along with newcomers Quickley, Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro. Keldon Johnson also figures to be among the players in the mix for a starting slot.

“When you look at this, we probably have nine guys that could start,” he said Thursday. “What I’m looking for is some separation and when the game starts. Some guys have got to. We’re scrimmaging more now for that reason. I’m stopping them still too much right now. You got to have separation. You got to have two, three or four guys that are playing a little bit more than the other guys, but it’ll be good to see. It’ll be good to see. They’re competing.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari huddles around his team during the Blue-White game earlier this week. The Wildcats take in Transylvania in an exhibition game Friday night. (Kentucky Sports Report LLC/Jeff Houchin)

By Keith Taylor

In addition to the talent he’s assembled, Calipari has been pleased with the team’s work ethic during the preseason.

“They come every day and they’re trying,” Calipari said. “They’re showing us stuff every day that they can do. They’re learning and growing. Anybody that’s watched me, coach — yeah, they make me who I am. If you want me to be hard and nasty, I’ll go to whatever point I have to go to get you to do what you have to do for yourself and our team. This team, it’s kind of like you tell them once and they get it.”

Ahead on the offensive side, Quickley said the Wildcats have been focusing on defense since last Sunday night’s Blue-White encounter.

“A lot of preseason stuff was on the offense and mow we’re just trying to get the defense and stuff like that together,” he said. “We really play well on offense together, so now we’re just trying to take the offense side to the defensive side. We’re trying to focus on advanced stuff and things they do in the NBA, we’re trying to get that on the college level. It will be hard for (other teams) to score on us if we get that defensive side down and that’s what we’re really focused on.”

BATTLE ON BROADWAY

Kentucky and Transy played an exhibition game for three straight seasons from 2011-13 but have; t played since the last meeting in 2013. Overall Transy is 7-7 against the Wildcats, including a 0-3 record in exhibition encounters.

The Pioneers traditionally take an 11-minute walk from its campus to Rupp Arena and is expected to take the same route this year. The trek also is known as the “Batwalk.”

“I thought that it would be a nice marketing ploy,” Transy coach Brian Lane said. “The walk could be a way to involve our campus and the local community in the lead-up to the game, highlight our close proximity to vibrant and Downtown Rupp Arena and it also saves our team $2.37 in gas.”

HONORS

Kentucky will honor 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 played basketball and baseball at Kentucky from 1948-51 and played on the school’s national championship team in 1951. He also pitched in the minor league for the New York Yankees.

“(Newton) obviously coached in the SEC, was part of the SEC, and then came here and left his mark,” Calipari said. “So this game, which was planned because of this so we could do this and talk to Martin, who obviously was part of my first staff here. He and his family are coming up from Samford. I’m just happy they are going to do some video board stuff for them.

“He’s just done so much for the game of basketball, so much for this university, so much for this athletic department, so much for the basketball program that I think it’s only right that we honor him … What Transy means to this city and where we can help each other, that’s what we’re doing. Then to honor C.M. on top of it is pretty good.”

KENTUCKY TIES

Former Kentucky guard Kyle Macy is in his third season as an assistant coach at Transy. Prior to taking over for his dad Don Lane at Transy, Lane served as an assistant coach under Macy at Morehead State. Macy coached the Eagles from 1997-2006.

Gametracker: Transy at Kentucky (exhibition), 7 p.m. Friday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

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


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