The Christians played the lions, er, Wildcats in Rupp Arena Sunday night. As in the Roman Coliseum, it was no contest.
Kentucky devoured Asbury, a nondenominational Christian school in nearby Wilmore. Seldom had a final score seemed so meaningless, but, for the record, UK won 156-63.
Kentucky players dunked 29 times. Kentucky players made layups 26 times.
The cartoonish rout saw Kentucky reach the century mark with 17:25 left in the second half. The Cats took the first of several century-sized leads — 135-35 — with 9:23 left.
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“That wasn’t our goal,” guard De’Aaron Fox said of a triple-digit lead. “It just kind of happened.”
Kentucky outscored Asbury from the paint 116-24 and on the fast-break 60-2.
Besides the night-and-day difference in talent, both sides cited Asbury’s style of play as a key factor in the one-sided nature of the exhibition game. Think how Pitino’s Bombinos stubbornly kept pressing and trapping in a 150-95 loss at Kansas early in the 1989-90 season.
“They scramble up the game,” UK Coach John Calipari said of Asbury. “They don’t let you run offense. They make you play basketball.”
Even UK fans, who never tire of Big Blue domination, seemed bored. When the Cats left the floor at halftime with an 88-25 lead, the band played On, On U of K as if by rote. There was only a smattering of applause.
A noticeable number of fans headed for the exits at each of the second half television timeouts. This was not must-see entertainment.
Eight UK players scored double-digit points. Fox led the way with 25 points. Mychal Mulder added 20 points and 11 rebounds.
By halftime, the Rupp Arena record for points (127 by UK against LSU in 1995) was as dead as Asbury’s chances of winning.
If it had been a “real” game, Kentucky would have set a program record for points, baskets (66) and blocks (19).
Kentucky led 88-25 after a layup line disguised as the first half. The Cats had 15 dunks and 12 layups, those easy-as-you-please scores making up the bulk of a 64-12 advantage in points from the paint.
“It’s fun,” Fox said of the all the dunks and layups. “We’re not really getting better like that.”
All the rapid-fire scoring made it impossible to judge Kentucky’s execution on offense. The Cats did not have to execute offense.
“The execution is just not there,” Calipari said on Friday. “We’re not where we’re supposed to be. The timing is not there.”
Kentucky did not score outside the paint until Malik Monk hit a pull-up 10 footer along the baseline with 9:37 left in the first half. The Cats didn’t get — or need — any other points from outside the paint.
Brad Calipari hit a three-pointer with 4:04 left. Then Mulder hit a three at the 3:01 mark.
Those shots enabled Kentucky to equal the three-pointers Asbury made in the first half. The Eagles, who depended on three-pointers, made only two of 20. With Asbury making only eight of 49 three-point shots, UK met its goal of defending the three better than it did against Clarion (nine of 20).
Kentucky reached the 100-point mark with 17:25 left in the second half. Sacha Killeya-Jones’ put-back gave the Cats a 101-27 lead.
Fans who like their laughers leavened with humor had to like a sequence early in the second half. Isaiah Briscoe cruised in for what seemed like yet another UK layup. Somehow, though alone at the rim, his shot banked too hard off the glass and rolled off the front of the rim.
Seconds later, Asbury turned the ball over and Briscoe was alone for a second chance. Inexplicably, he did not dunk. Instead, he banked the ball off the glass again. This time it went in.
Stephen F. Austin at Kentucky
What: Season opener
When: 7 p.m. Friday
TV: SEC Network