UK Men's Basketball

Ouachita may pose truer test for Cats

Ouachita Baptist returns four of its top five scorers from a season of historic accomplishment.

"So we're bringing a pretty experienced crew," Coach Charlie Shaef said.

Might Ouachita Baptist be a good enough Division II school to challenge Kentucky in Friday night's men's basketball exhibition game?

"I don't know," Shaef said with a laugh. "I guess we'll find out."

Like a power program with national ambitions should, Kentucky routed its first exhibition opponent. The Cats played with merciless intent in beating Missouri-St. Louis 111-53 on Monday night.

Ouachita (pronounced WASH-uh-taw) Baptist brings the promise of a more competitive game. A 20-10 record last season included the program's first Gulf South Conference West Division title and first NCAA Division II South Region Tournament appearance.

The Tigers, who were voted by league coaches as the favorite to win the West again this season, lost their leading scorer. But back from the balanced attack are Daniel Maddox (12.6 ppg), Ed Keyes (12.4 ppg), Antonio Benjamin (10.5 ppg) and Jaranimo Marks (9.1 ppg). Marks needs 67 points this season to reach 1,000 in his career.

UK dominated around the basket against Missouri-St. Louis, which started only one player as tall as 6-foot-6.

Shaef noted that the Tigers have good size "for our level." He expects to have a regular rotation that includes two 6-7 players.

Ouachita Baptist played competitively in losing 85-59 at Texas A&M last season.

That game reflected a reason why Ouachita Baptist is coming to Kentucky. Shaef is friends with UK Coach Billy Gillispie and assistant Jeremy Cox.

Shaef noted how he and Gillispie share a similar background that extends beyond living a basketball life. Each has roots in small-town Texas, Gillispie from Graford and Shaef from a town called Canadian.