Wildcats Cruise Past Pikeville
Nov. 1, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky coach John Calipari can live with missed shots and turnovers. It's part of the process when trying to mold a team littered with underclassmen.
The one thing Calipari can't live with, however, is a lack of grit, a trait he said the 11th-ranked Wildcats had in abundance during a sometimes sloppy 97-66 exhibition win over Pikeville on Monday.
"We're not tough enough, we don't play vicious enough," Calipari said.
Pikeville, an NAIA school, led for a short period in the first half and trailed by only 11 early in the second before the Wildcats were able to pull away.
"We got beat to everything," Calipari said.
Not exactly. Kentucky outrebounded the Bears 52-35, forced 17 turnovers and blocked 10 shots. Yet it was a struggle for the Wildcats to put Pikeville away.
While Calipari allows a steep learning curve is to be expected on a team trying to replace five players who from last season's squad now playing in the NBA, he didn't expect to have to teach his players how to fight.
"What you have to have as a player is an understanding that it's one of two things: he outworks me or I outwork him," Calipari said. "This isn't about cool, this isn't about style points."
There weren't a ton to go around against the Bears. Kentucky made 1 of 10 3-pointers and managed just seven assists.
"We've got to play together better," Calipari said. "We're just trying to figure each other out and create for each other more."
Knight, the latest in a long line of high-profile point guards recruited by Calipari, fought through some pregame nerves to add seven rebounds and do whatever he wanted while operating Kentucky's dribble-drive offense.
"I know it takes time, but (fans) will have high expectations because of last year's team, but even they struggled a bit towards the beginning," he said. "I think if we just continue to work, we'll get better over time and it will fall into place."
Vance Cooksey led Pikeville with 15 points, but the Bears shot just 32 percent from the field and wore down under Kentucky's relentless pressure.
The Wildcats host Dillard in another exhibition on Friday then open the season on Nov. 12 against East Tennessee State.
Kentucky freshman center Enes Kanter watched the game in a grey sweatsuit from the bench. Kanter, who spent portions of three seasons playing for a club team in his native Turkey, must sit while his amateur status is being reviewed by the NCAA.