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Texas Arlington latest team to fall victim to top-ranked Cats as Booker leads the way

UK freshman point guard led the team with five assists in 19 minutes in the win against Texas Arlington (UK Athletics Photo)

UK freshman point guard led the team with five assists in 19 minutes in the win against Texas Arlington (UK Athletics Photo)


Devin Booker poured in 19 points for his second career scoring best in as many games, Karl-Anthony Towns added 13 and 11 rebounds and No. 1 Kentucky had no trouble with Texas-Arlington in Tuesday night’s 92-44 blowout at Rupp Arena.

Towns’ double double was a surprise for the freshman.

“It is pretty difficult to do,” he said. “You have to put in a lot of effort, but that is why we train so hard. The amount of training we put in makes it a lot easier. Since we know that we are all limited on minutes, it makes everyone put in full effort for every minute that we are given. I am mainly glad that I could offer quality minutes to my team today, not necessarily the double-double. It feels good to give my brothers a helping hand.”

The Wildcats (6-0) concluded a busy season-opening stretch of six games in 11 days with a complete effort on both ends. Besides shooting 57 percent from the field (30 of 53), Kentucky held the Mavericks (3-2) to 27 percent shooting and just 12 points in the first half.

Second-platoon guard Booker followed Sunday’s 18-point effort by hitting 7 of 8 shots, including five 3-pointers. Towns added three blocks and four assists for Kentucky, which led 55-12 at halftime and rarely let UTA get within 40 points afterward in ending the Mavericks’ two-game winning streak.

Booker said he hasn’t changed anything in his approach this season despite his slow start offensively.

“I wouldn’t say there was a difference,” he said. “I didn’t change anything. They’re falling now. I guess there’s just not much to it. I’m shooting it all the same. It’s just going in now.”

Dakari Johnson scored all 12 points on free throws, missing just twice from the line, while guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison each had 11 points. Trey Lyles added 10 points for the Wildcats to go with nine boards.

Nine Wildcats hit the scoring column and Kentucky had 19 assists on 30 baskets. Tyler Ulis had five assists in 19 minutes of action.

UK coach John Calipari said he wasn’t trying to run up the score.

“Well, the issue becomes I’ve got to worry about my team, and I’m sitting on the bench, and you want to say, okay, let’s just don’t play,” the coach said. “Well, my guys aren’t playing enough to do that. If you’re only going to play 19, 20 minutes, do you really want to go in and not play? And then it’s not like you’re saying, okay, put your last five in. Well, those five are pretty good, too, and you throw Dominique in and Derek in and a couple ‐‐ you’re still not bad. So I’m not ‐‐ if you’ve followed my career, I’m not one that tries to run up scores on people. I don’t do it. But this is a unique I’m doing is coaching my team.”

Lonnie McClanahan’s 10 points off the bench led Texas-Arlington, the latest school to be overwhelmed by Kentucky’s two platoons of length, speed and depth. The Mavericks’ only consolations were topping them in steals (8-6) and leading 3-2 on Kevin Hervey’s perimeter jumper.

The Mavs trailed 8-5 after five minutes before Kentucky got rolling behind balance in which no Wildcat played more than 21 minutes.

After drubbing Montana State by 58 points on Sunday thanks to swarming defense, the Wildcats held Texas-Arlington to 4-of-32 shooting through 20 minutes and closed on a 42-5 run for a 55-12 lead at the break. Brandon Williams’ layup with 7:12 remaining made it 27-12 and marked the Mavericks’ last basket of the half.

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Kentucky meanwhile quickly warmed up from a 1-for-7 start from the field, making 18 of its final 24 attempts of the half. Willie Cauley-Stein got off to a good start with eight points before his teammates joined in for two big runs, starting with a 25-7 spurt over 8:07 for a 33-12 lead.

Booker picked up where he left off Sunday by making four 3-pointers in the half. Aaron Harrison added a pair from behind the arc as well as Kentucky scored the final 28 points of the half.

Scott Cross, Arlington’s head coach, said an unbeaten season isn’t out of the question for UK.

“It is very possible that they could go undefeated, if they play the way they did tonight playing together as a team, going inside and when they keep hitting shots they are not going to lose for sure,” he said. “I think to beat them it would take a really poor shooting night and somebody would have to have great size. It would have to be one of the powerhouse teams having an unbelievable night to knock them off.”

From UK Athletics

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