John Clay: Transy has no answers for Kentucky's defense

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistNovember 5, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

About an hour before the game, out on the floor of Rupp Arena, Brian Lane had a question, one in which he already knew the answer.

"What was the halftime score of the Morehouse game last year?" asked the Transylvania coach about the score of Kentucky's second exhibition game last season. "Do you remember?"

No, not really.

"Think it was something like 70-12."

It was actually 74-13.

"That's why I wanted to be their first exhibition game," said Lane smiling. "They really get it going that second exhibition game."

This year in Kentucky's second exhibition game, the Cats turned it on in the second half, turning a 27-18 halftime lead into a 74-28 romp over the Division III Pioneers on Monday night.

A year ago, Lane said he was happy that he thought his team helped Kentucky get better in the 97-53 exhibition loss. This year?

"Defensively," said Lane, "they are going to do nothing but get better."

Transy scored 18 points the first half, 10 the second. The Pioneers made six of 23 shots the first 20 minutes, five of 19 the second.

Lane said he wanted his team to take 30-35 three-pointers. The visitors, who again walked down to Rupp Arena from the nearby Transy campus, took just 20, hitting three.

"We couldn't get them off," said Lane. "We tried, we just couldn't get them off."

John Calipari saw a slightly different game, just because he was the coach of the more talented team, thus he expected more from his more talented team.

Calipari reiterated that "it's a process" starting over with a new team all over again. He asked the day's date. Told it was Nov. 5, the coach replied, "We're a Nov. 5 team."

On Friday, the Cats will be a Nov. 9 team in Brooklyn, N.Y., playing Maryland in the Barclays Center in the season opener.

"They canceled the marathon, I was hoping they would cancel this game," he quipped. "But I guess we're going to have to go up there and play it."

Then in a week, Kentucky will be a Nov. 13 team playing Duke inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the Champions Classic.

"Those are two talented, well-coached teams," said Calipari.

This Kentucky team owns both of those attributes.

Nerlens Noel scored 15 points to lead the way. Julius Mays came off the bench to score 14, hitting four of eight threes and dishing five assists, before suffering a right leg strain.

(Afterward, Mays pronounced himself fine and said he would play Friday.)

The Cats shot 71 percent the second half, which you would probably expect from the nation's No. 3 team playing a Division III team.

"They are extremely long," said Transy's Ethan Spurlin. "All of them, really. I had trouble rebounding. I was jumping up there and and couldn't get anything because of their length."

Lane talked about how he had seen this Kentucky team in a couple of workouts this year, how he had attended practice and watched Calipari operate, how he attended a coach's retreat in which Calipari must have asked "150 questions" of other coaches.

"If you think he just rolls the ball out there, you're crazy," said Lane. "He's trying to figure out how this team will play."

Calipari says the same thing. He used some different combinations again, starting the second half with Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow on the bench and Mays and Willie Cauley-Stein in the starting lineup.

"I wanted something different," said the coach. "And I didn't like the way we played in the first half. We scored 27 points."

They scored 47 in the second half of the second exhibition game.

But then Morehouse scored 40 points on the Cats in that 85-point loss last year.

"After the game, I apologized to Cal for not scoring more points on them," Lane said. "But I told him, 'You had something to do with that.'"

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog:

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