Kentucky Soars Over Grand Canyon to Open Season
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Andrew Harrison scored 16 points and No. 1 Kentucky dominated Grand Canyon in every phase during an 85-45, season-opening blowout on Friday night.
Beginning their second straight season atop the rankings thanks to a 10-deep roster that coach John Calipari utilized through a two-platoon system, the Wildcats exploited their substantial height and talent advantages through both units against a young Antelopes squad featuring seven true or redshirt freshmen among nine newcomers.
Despite missing a bunch of easy chances, Kentucky still shot 49 percent. The Wildcats held the Antelopes to 15-for-48 shooting (31 percent), outrebounded them 51-21 and blocked 10 shots.
Royce Woolridge, son of late former NBA player Orlando Woolridge, scored 15 points for Grand Canyon.
Kentucky also dominated scoring in the paint 58-16 as the Antelopes rarely found anything inside, an effort that warmed a Rupp Arena crowd of 22,533 on an unseasonably cold night.
Though the first test of Kentucky's two-platoon system awaits Tuesday night in Indianapolis against No. 5 Kansas, its official debut was encouraging for both units for the most part.
Andrew Harrison and twin brother Aaron, forwards Karl-Anthony Towns (6-foot-11) and Alex Poythress and 7-footer Cauley-Stein comprised Kentucky's first imposing wave, and Andrew Harrison got the Wildcats started by scoring the game's first seven points.
They exited 4 1/2 minutes later with a 14-6 lead that the next platoon of 7-footer Johnson, guards Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis and forwards Lyles and Marcus Lee initially struggled to expand behind missed shots. But those Wildcats eventually chipped in 13 first-half points and contributed to a stifling defensive effort that held Grand Canyon to 6-of-24 shooting (25 percent) and built a 43-16 lead at the break that widened in the second half.
Kentucky's first-half defensive effort included seven blocks. Grand Canyon, coached by former NBA star Dan Majerle, couldn't keep up. Daniel Alexander added 10 points for the Antelopes.