WINDSOR, Ontario — It's August in Canada against a school many University of Kentucky fans surely did not know existed before this three-exhibition series. So the sober counsel not to compare new point guard Brandon Knight — or anyone else, for that matter — to John Wall remains sound.
But Knight gave a pretty good impersonation of a player who can take a game by the throat and propel his team to victory Sunday night. With the University of Windsor stubbornly hanging around late in the first half, the freshman from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., took charge and led UK to a 95-62 victory in this exhibition series opener.
"He's a different point guard than the other point guards I've had," said UK Coach John Calipari, the Svengali of point guard play after teaching Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and Wall. "But he can be just as effective. He's a relentless player."
Never did he look more like Wall than early in the second half. Like Wall, who in June became the first UK player ever selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, Knight acted boldly, decisively and, most importantly, effectively early in the second half.
Never miss a local story.
After Windsor reduced Kentucky's lead to 49-41, Knight needed only seven seconds to change the course of the game. He zipped downcourt and scored in the lane while being fouled.
The three-point play put the Cats ahead 52-41. UK's lead never returned to single digits again.
Windsor guard Monty Hardware had a simple explanation for Knight's effectiveness. "He's super fast," he said before adding, "He's super, super fast."
And if you get caught on an athletic island trying to keep Knight in front of you? "If there's no help, you see legs," said Hardware, meaning Knight rising at the rim.
Knight, who reached the 30-point mark with 7:44 left, finished with 31 points. And he took only 19 shots, so he was efficient, too. He made his free throws (8-for-8). He tied for the team lead with four assists and did not commit a turnover.
The only thing Knight did not do was talk to reporters about his performance.
None of UK's freshmen — the core of the re-tooled roster — will be available for interviews this week in Canada, UK spokesman John Hayden said.
Knight's performance spoke for itself. It was a blabbermouth in a span of 17:40 in the middle of the game when he scored 25 points. Calipari cited Knight's fitness and Windsor's fatigue.
"When they burned out, he kept motoring," the UK coach said.
UK trailed 33-32 when Knight's flurry changed the game. He hit a seemingly off-balance jumper from the right side to get UK's 11-2 run going.
Jon Hood's fast-break dunk (the only non-Knight UK basket in the final 5:47 of the half), sparked the loudest cheer of the game, so far, from the largely partisan UK crowd.
After the cheering subsided, the fans started a U-K, U-K, U-K chant.
After Hood's fast-break dunk excited the crowd, Knight hit a three-pointer, two free throws and a purposeful driving banker.
"His ability to shoot the ball off the dribble is a real talent," Windsor Coach Chris Oliver said. Knight's shooting (11-for-19) foiled Windsor's plan to sag its defense to prevent UK drives.
UK's other first-half star was its defense. The Cats limited Windsor to 34.3-percent shooting (4-for-16 from three-point range).
Darius Miller said he wanted to be more assertive and confident this season..
In the early minutes against Windsor, Miller looked it. His rousing putback dunk put the Cats ahead 16-10 with 14:46 left.
The exhibition series continues on Monday with a game against the University of Western Ontario. UK and Windsor will play again on Tuesday to complete the series.