UK Hosts Wright State on Friday

Calipari, Briscoe and Humphries Quotes | Calipari Video | Briscoe, Humphries Video 

There was a certain rhythm to Isaiah Briscoe’s defensive game before he came to Kentucky.

“Take a couple trips off,” Briscoe said. “Might play defense three trips in a row, then take another couple trips off.”

Kentucky vs. Wright State
Fri., Nov. 20 - 8 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | Wright State Get Acrobat Reader
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UK 2015-16 Team Stats WSU
3-0 Record 1-2
0-0 Conference Record 0-0
.484 FG% .432
.383 Opp FG% .451
.292 3FG% .471
.682 FT% .721
79.7 PPG 67.7
42.3 RPG 29.0
8.0 BPG 1.7
15.0 APG 13.3
7.0 SPG 5.0
Defense, you see, was an opportunity for Briscoe to take a break from carrying the offensive load for his high-school and AAU teams. Times have changed with John Calipari coaching him.

“Growing up I just wasn’t forced to play defense,” Briscoe said. “But coming here, Cal, he’s holding everybody accountable for what they know how to do.”

It just so happens Briscoe is capable of more than anyone else.

“He thinks I can be the best defender in the country,” Briscoe said. “So he’s going to push me to be that.”

Calipari’s confidence appeared well placed on Tuesday, as Briscoe was given the task of tailing Duke’s Grayson Allen. The gifted 6-foot-5 sophomore was averaging 27 points entering the showdown between the Wildcats and Blue Devils, but Briscoe handcuffed him.

Allen didn’t score until the 12:08 mark of the first half. For the game, he turned it over four times and scored just six points on 2-of-11 shooting, well below the 10-point limit Kenny Payne set for Briscoe before the game.

“He’s been tremendous,” Calipari said. “He’s confident and he’s comfortable in his own skin, so he really doesn’t worry about anybody else. He knows what he is.”

Briscoe might know what he is, but his friends from back home in Newark, N.J., were surprised to turn on the Champions Classic and see their formerly offensively oriented friend going all out on every defensive possession.

“ ‘Since when?’ ” Briscoe said, recalling his postgame text messages. “That’s all they said. ‘Since when did you start playing defense?’ Ever since I got here Coach Cal has been making me.”

And perhaps even more surprisingly, Briscoe is even starting to enjoy it as UK (3-0) prepares for a Friday-night game against Wright State (1-2).

“It gets me in the game early and my adrenaline is always rushing and just knowing that I’m playing the best offensive player on the other team, no room for error,” Briscoe said.

The role of defensive stopper has been filled in previous years by the likes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and DeAndre Liggins. Comparisons to those two are high praise, but Coach Cal says to be careful with them. 

“He’s totally different than those guys, and he gives you so much offense with the ball, he’s so creative,” Calipari said.

Briscoe represents one-third of UK’s three-headed point-guard monster. He starts alongside Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray and has scored in double figures in each of his first two college games.  Calipari anticipates opponents focusing more of their attention on his backcourt mates, but they will be doing so at their own peril.

“Now, there may be people that say, ‘Well, we’re not going to play him,’ ” Calipari said. “Good luck. He did average 25 a game in high school. He did shoot like 38 percent from the 3 in high school.”

To this point, the only things that have significantly slowed Briscoe were the full-leg cramps that had him receiving treatment through much of the second half against Duke. Calipari – in addition to making sure Briscoe drinks water and eats an extra banana or two – will be using that as a teaching point.

“Now, Isaiah went so hard – cramped up,” Calipari said. “So my point to him today is, you got to go harder in practice if you expect to play that hard in a game. If you don't go harder you're gonna cramp up every game. Your body's got to get used to that kind of pace.”

That’s all with the goal of helping Briscoe realize his potential in mind, even if it’s potential he didn’t know he had.

“We’re just trying to define him in a way that everybody wants to watch and say, ‘Wow, I love that kid.’ ” Calipari said. “And it’s beginning to happen. The way he can defend, the way he can rebound – he’s so fast and strong physically, so good with the ball.”

Guard Play Suffocates Duke in 74-63 Win at Champions Classic

Guards Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis combined to score 62 percent (46) of UK’s 74 points in a win over No. 5 Duke on Tuesday in Chicago in the first marquee matchup of top-five opponents this season.

The three-guard combo helped the Wildcats flourish in a fast-paced game which saw the Wildcats score 48 points via either a layup or a dunk. UK forced the Blue Devils into 16 turnovers that resulted in 18 fastbreak points.

Ulis shined with a career day. The 5-foot-9 Chicago native poured in a game-high and career-high 18 points and added six assists, becoming the first player since Kyle Macy on March 1, 1980 to post at least 18 points and at least six assists in an AP top-five matchup. Most impressivley, he yielded zero turnovers while playing all 40 minutes.

Briscoe led the way with 11 first-half points, while Murray poured in 11 after the break.

Junior Marcus Lee registered his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, including a stretch in which he scored all 10 points in a span of 8:02 in game clock. Senior Alex Poythress contributed a steady nine points and seven rebounds, while freshman Isaac Humphries logged critical minutes as UK dealt with foul trouble. Humphries had two points, two boards and two blocks in a career-high 17 minutes.

Also of note:

• The win was the first over Duke since an NCAA Tournament win in 1998
• Kentucky improved to 3-2 when playing in the Champions Classic
• The game featured two lead changes and six ties, but UK never trailed in the second half
• UK improved to 5-2 under under John Calipari in AP top-five matchups

Kentucky Signs Super Six in 2016 Class

The Kentucky men’s basketball program has put together one of the strongest recruiting classes of all time, signing six of the nation’s top players during the early fall signing period. Highly rated prospects Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Malik Monk and Tai Wynyard have all signed with UK.

All six players are consensus four- or five-star prospects, and four are ranked in the top 10 by the major national recruiting services. In a class stocked full of highly regarded players, national analysts are already calling this the nation’s top signing haul for 2016.

In every season in the Calipari era, the Wildcats have signed either the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting class. UK looks to continue that streak with the latest additions of Adebayo, Fox, Gabriel, Killeya-Jones, Monk and Wynyard.

• Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, F, 6-9, 230 - ranked as high as No. 6 overall by Rivals and ESPN
• De’Aaron Fox, G, 6-3, 170 - ranked as high as No. 2 overall by 247Sports
• Wenyen Gabriel, F, 6-9, 200 - ranked as high as No. 10 overall by Scout
• Sacha Killeya-Jones, F, 6-10, 207 - ranked as high as No. 16 by 247Sports
• Malik Monk, G, 6-3, 185 - ranked as high as No. 5 overall by 247Sports and ESPN
• Tai Wynyard, F, 6-9, 230