UK basketball tops 100-point mark in win against UT Arlington

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 19, 2013 

Earlier in the day, worldly John Calipari marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address with a tweet. But it was another, much-less celebrated comment by Abraham Lincoln that captured Kentucky's 105-76 victory Tuesday night.

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns," Lincoln said, "or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

Plenty of roses and thorns adorned this Kentucky victory. UT Arlington deserved some credit.

On his radio show Monday night, Calipari suggested that the competition wasn't good enough to show the quality of UK's freshmen.

"Pro scouts said games are going to get in the way of us evaluating your team," he said. Apparently, the message was the freshmen need to push each other to greater heights.

But UT Arlington pushed the Cats early.

In the first half, Kentucky never trailed, but it never took the competitive fight out of UT Arlington, either.

The Cats led by as many as 15, but UT Arlington trailed only 42-33 at halftime.

Although their starters gave up a collective 15 inches, the Mavericks scrapped to a 21-17 rebound advantage, which helped neutralize UK's size advantage.

Julius Randle, who posted his fifth straight double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds) did not put the ball in the basket — and took only one shot — in the first 11-plus minutes. But he had a hand in helping the Cats lead by double digits less than four minutes into the game and by 14 before the second television timeout.

Twice in the early going Randle's passes out of a low-post trap gave James Young wide-open three-point shots. Young, who scored 15 first-half points and led UK for the game with a career-high 26, made three three-pointers inside the first seven minutes. The third put Kentucky ahead 19-5 with 13:47 left.

When it seemed UK might win easily, UT Arlington reeled off nine straight points to close within 21-17.

After a timeout, Kentucky went to — who else? — Randle in the low post. His "and-one" eased any anxiety.

Randle returned later in the half when UT Arlington closed within 28-25. His dunk and putback were part of a run in which eight of nine UK baskets came from the paint.

With Kentucky ahead 40-25 with 2:36 left, the Mavericks rallied again. The UK lead shrank to 40-33 inside the final minute.

Kentucky cranked up its transition offense early in the second half. The Cats expanded the lead to 55-36 with 17:11 left.

Yet, UT Arlington refused to roll over. Two three-point plays by Reger Dowell — the first when he drove past Andrew Harrison for an and-one, the second a three-point swish — kept an upset plausible.

Dowell scored 20 points, which was six less than his season average. He came into the game as the nation's ninth-most prolific scorer. He made nine of 21 shots.

Brandon Edwards, who came into the game averaging a double-double, added 22 points and 10 rebounds for UT Arlington.

Andrew Harrison scored a career-high 15 points. He also had six assists.

Ultimately, Kentucky over-powered UT Arlington. UK outrebounded the Mavericks 26-9 in the first 14 minutes of the second half.

Still, UT Arlington reminded the crowd that two teams were on the court. For instance, five seconds after a Willie Cauley-Stein post-up, the Mavericks countered with a layup.

With no help defense in sight, Dowell drove by Dakari Johnson for an easy layup. Calipari ran both hands through his hair in a gesture that looked like exasperation.

Still, thorns and all, the UK coach might have been secretly happy given the November date.

"I'm pretty pleased where we are right now, but don't tell anyone ... ," he said on his radio show Monday night. "We have miles to go."


Monday

Cleveland State at Kentucky

When: 7 p.m.

TV: FS South

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

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