Top-ranked Kentucky blasts Robert Morris, 87-49
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Any hopes that Robert Morris had of repeating the performance that helped end Kentucky’s season in the NIT were quickly quashed by a top-ranked Wildcats squad much better than the one the Colonials upset in March.
Robert Morris’ offense never got going as the Wildcats (3-1) ran away for an 87-49 victory in Sunday night’s rematch. The Colonials missed their first eight field goal attempts and finished the night shooting just 23 percent (16 of 69).
Both coaches downplayed the game as a rematch of last spring’s NIT meeting that Robert Morris (2-2) won 59-57. Four Colonials starters contributed to that victory, while Kentucky started five freshmen for the first time in school history.
The Wildcats’ lineup was nothing like what the Colonials saw nearly eight months ago, and it wasn’t close.
“The buildup to this was, to me, a little bit ridiculous,” Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said. “Now that it’s over with and the second part has occurred and order has been restored, we’ll be able to move on with our season and they’ll be able to move on with their season.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari used his team’s depth to his advantage, using 13 players with 11 scoring field goals. Toole found himself with a short bench after senior forward Mike McFadden and sophomore forward Stephan Hawkins fouled out in the second half.
The Colonials struggled mightily against the much larger Wildcats. Kentucky had 11 blocks to Robert Morris’ one, and Kentucky dominated the rebounding 56-33.
“With their size and their athleticism, there are times when you think you’re open and then you’re not, very quickly,” Toole said.
Robert Morris scored the first point of the game on McFadden’s free throw, but its offense sputtered from there while the Wildcats scored the next 10 points. Robert Morris didn’t make a field goal until 11:36 remained in the first half.
Kentucky had already built a 13-point lead by then, and Robert Morris never threatened from there.
Junior guard Karvel Anderson led Robert Morris with 16 points and also tied a team high with five rebounds.
Aaron Harrison scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half to lead Kentucky, which shot 49 percent.
After three games of starting four freshmen around sophomore 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, coach John Calipari rolled out a rookie lineup of Harrison and twin brother Andrew, James Young, Marcus Lee and Julius Randle. That look lasted just 51 seconds before Cauley-Stein replaced Lee, but the Wildcats (3-1) used other combinations of highly touted recruits.
Harrison ended up grabbing the spotlight instead of leading scorer Randle, shooting 7 of 12 from the field and making all 10 free throws. He also had four rebounds and three assists.
Randle added 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Young had 10 points.
Kentucky had something to prove, none of which involved getting revenge against Robert Morris. Though the sting of Tuesday’s loss to Michigan State subsided, the disappointment was something the Wildcats didn’t want to feel again and thoroughly proved that against Robert Morris.
“It was a new group that I knew it would turn out different,” Calipari said about the rematch. “That thing is over, this is a new team and the last three days we did not talk about Robert Morris. I’m concerned about my team, and I’ve got to get this right.”