No. 2 UK Rolls Marist in Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Isaiah Morton called his trip to play No. 2 Kentucky at Rupp Arena wonderful. A 50-point loss hardly mattered.
Morton scored 13 points and the Red Foxes only trailed by nine at halftime before freshman Anthony Davis and the Wildcats took over in a 108-58 victory Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything else," Morton said. "In the first half, we played pretty well. We did some good things. We are pretty confident heading back into our conference."
Marist has won just seven games in the last two seasons, but the Red Foxes hung around early, taking an 18-17 lead on Dorvell Carter's 3-pointer. Marist trailed by four late in the first half before Kentucky went on a 7-0 run. Morton hit a jumper that made it 45-36 at the half, cutting Kentucky's lead to single digits for the final time.
"The No. 2 team in the country showed up," Marist coach Chuck Martin said. "Their athleticism made up for a lot of their mistakes."
Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds to join Terrence Jones (2010) and Sam Bowie (1979) as the only freshmen in Kentucky history with 20-10 games in their debuts.
Davis attacked the rim, finishing 10 of 13 with eight dunks, as Kentucky shrugged off a slow start with a dominant second half that turned a single-digit lead into a blowout in their first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.
Kentucky's next stop is New York City where the Wildcats will face No. 13 Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday before heading to Uncasville, Conn., for two more games as part of this early season tournament.
After Kentucky took a 45-36 lead in the first half, Doron Lamb found Jones under the basket for a slam as the Wildcats scored the first six points of the second half. Davis had consecutive slams as the Wildcats pulled away with a 21-2 run that made it 72-42 with 12 minutes left. Kentucky's biggest lead was the final margin.
Jones had 25 points and 12 rebounds in his debut last season and Kentucky went on to the Final Four, losing in the national semifinals to Connecticut. He returned, and the Wildcats are looking to go even further with an impressive freshman class that includes Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer. Teague had 16 points, Kidd-Gilchrist and Lamb had 15 each and Wiltjer added 14 for the Wildcats.
Carter finished with 12 points for Marist.
"To be honest, they are a pretty good team and I think they are definitely a Final Four team," he said.
Martin, who was on Calipari's staff from Memphis from 2006-08, has gone 7-56 over his last two seasons, but his players said this was a positive experience moving forward this season.
"We played great in the first half," said Jay Bowie, who finished with eight points. "The second half wasn't as good as the first half, but I think we showed a lot of promise for this team."