Kentucky blows out Robert Morris, 87-49, in 'revenge' game

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 17, 2013 

Never mind what the public address announcer politely termed as possible "inclement weather" in a pre-game alert to fans.

There was a blowout watch inside Rupp Arena as strong and repeated gusts of superiority enabled Kentucky to scatter Robert Morris like so much early-season debris.

With freshman Aaron Harrison scoring a career-high 28 points, UK routed Robert Morris 87-49.

Talk of a tornado watch during the day did not prevent UK fans from mostly filling Rupp Arena (attendance announced as 21,600). The fans saw a bit of history: UK started five freshmen for the first time as Marcus Lee took the place of Willie Cauley-Stein.

That footnote lasted 51 seconds before Cauley-Stein replaced Lee. Coincidentally, the Cats, 3-1, began dispatching Robert Morris shortly thereafter.

"I'm happy we defended like we did," UK Coach John Calipari said. "I'm happy we rebounded the way we did."

Kentucky, which out-rebounded Robert Morris 56-33, dominated throughout. Robert Morris missed its first eight shots and the Cats built a 10-point lead barely six minutes in and steadily pulled further away.

The Colonials made only 16 of 69 shots (23.2 percent).

"With their size, there are times you think you're open," Robert Morris Coach Andrew Toole said, "and you're not very quickly."

The early misses "hurt our spirit a little bit," Toole said.

The Cats' lead was 26 points with a minute left in the first half. Yet, the time to intermission proved memorable.

After UK grabbed a loose ball in the final seconds, Andrew Harrison flung a heave from about 85 feet. As if on a cord, it flew through the air and zipped into the basket.

The crowd exploded in cheers. Amid the noise, it took a moment to realize the referees judged that Harrison needed to walk to launch the ball from so far away.

When asked about the heave, Aaron Harrison smiled broadly. "I think it should have counted," he said.

With barely more than a second left, Robert Morris had enough time for Karvel Anderson to make a three-pointer from the right side.

Most of the half fulfilled any fan's dream of avenging Kentucky's loss to Robert Morris in the NIT first round last March.

Both coaches dismissed revenge as a factor. Of course, UK's five freshman starters were in high school when Robert Morris beat Kentucky in the NIT last March.

"A little bit ridiculous," Toole said. With the 24/7 news cycle, "You have to write about something."

If Kentucky thirsted for revenge (a dubious contention), it was quenched.

"Order has been restored, maybe," Toole said.

Robert Morris didn't make a basket until Aaron Tate made a shot from the right elbow with 11:34 left. It reduced Kentucky's lead to 17-4.

Aaron Harrison's 19 points led the way for UK in the first half. He scored 29 in UK's first three games.

His three three-pointers inside the first seven minutes got UK off to a good start and foiled Robert Morris' pick-your-poison dilemma. Without the size to contend with Kentucky around the basket, the Colonials decided to take their chances with the Cats shooting from the perimeter. UK had made 26.4 percent of its three-point shots in the first three games. Against Robert Morris, UK made seven of 19.

"We kind of had to make a choice," Toole said.

Calipari cautioned Aaron Harrison and James Young to not let their shooting affect their play. Said Aaron Harrison, "It's something I really do need to learn."

The second half was mere formality.

Andrew Harrison got on the board with a three-pointer off a pass from Aaron at the 14:48 mark.

Besides scoring, Aaron Harrison also flashed heads-up passing. Twice he threw fast-break lobs that teammates dunked.

Late in the game, Jon Hood and Derek Willis collaborated on a fan-pleasing play. Willis dunked Hood's fast-break lob.

By then, many fans had walked up the aisles to depart with almost five minutes left.

Said one press row wag, "Maybe they're storm chasers."


Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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