UK Men's Basketball

UK notes: Montana State coach awed by UK's talent

Kentucky Wildcats forward Karl-Anthony Towns (12) and Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) combined to block a shot by Montana State Bobcats guard Marcus Colbert (22) as the University of Kentucky played Montana State in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Sunday, November 23, 2014. This is first half college basketball action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats forward Karl-Anthony Towns (12) and Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) combined to block a shot by Montana State Bobcats guard Marcus Colbert (22) as the University of Kentucky played Montana State in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Sunday, November 23, 2014. This is first half college basketball action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

For Montana State Coach Brian Fish, it was like being asked to compare being swallowed by a tidal wave and being smothered by an avalanche. His team's 86-28 loss to Kentucky Sunday came 10 days after a 35-point loss at UCLA.

"Totally two different teams," Fish said when asked to compare Kentucky and UCLA. "You guys play in waves, and UCLA plays five guys 35 minutes a game."

Fish, who had been an assistant at Oregon the past four seasons, said he considered UCLA's Bryce Alford a NBA-caliber player and Norman Powell an excellent player in transition.

"I thought Norman Powell was as good as anyone last year in transition and he has gotten better and can shoot it," Fish said. "They are a very, very good team.

"But I think the one thing you have seen that Kentucky ... at some point, with that length and athleticism and that skill that they have, they just wear you down over time."

Another indication of UK's depth was that Devin Booker was the leading scorer against Montana State with 18 points. The Cats have had a different leading scorer in each of the first five games: Andrew Harrison (16 points) against Grand Canyon, Tyler Ulis and Trey Lyles (12 points each) against Buffalo, Dakari Johnson (11 points) against Kansas and Aaron Harrison (19 points) against Boston.

"There are a lot of teams out there that if you get a certain guy in foul trouble, then you get a guy ... you can attack," Fish said. "With (Kentucky), it is McDonald's All-American after McDonald's All-American."

Balloon

UK Coach John Calipari came to the post-game press conference with a Happy Birthday balloon. In an earlier tweet, Calipari had wished his younger daughter, Meghan, a happy birthday on the wrong date.

He said he brought the balloon to show he knew her true birthday.

"Why does that go all over the world, by the way?" Calipari said jokingly about his earlier mistake being pounced on by Internet users. "... It was like they invited me to Good Morning America to talk about it. What? It is my daughter's birthday."

Early pressure

Montana State could not get the ball past midcourt on its first five possessions. Fish noted the problems created by a big man being at the top of UK's press. Usually, it's Willie Cauley-Stein.

"It's hard to simulate that length" in practice, the Montana State coach said. "Somebody told me the other day that Kentucky was the eighth tallest team in the country, including the NBA. It's hard to simulate that length."

Return to Rupp

The game was something of a homecoming for Fish.

As a high school player from Seymour, Ind., he played in an all-star game staged in Rupp Arena.

Fish played his first two college seasons for Western Kentucky. When then-WKU coach Clem Haskins moved to Minnesota, Fish transferred to Marshall.

"I was a bad player, but I enjoyed it," Fish said of his college playing career. "... I was never on the first page of the scouting report, I can tell you that."

Fish also has family ties to the University of Kentucky. His brother, Mark, attended UK's medical school.

A nephew, Luke, currently attends UK.

Ugly numbers

■ Montana State had only four assists. The Bobcats joined Kansas as UK opponents with four assists this early. Buffalo had only five.

The first five UK opponents have had 31 assists and 92 turnovers.

■ UK blocked 12 shots. Put another way, UK blocks accounted for 24.5 percent of Montana State's 49 misses.

■ The three-point shot is the great equalizer. Montana State made only two of 23 shots from beyond the arc (8.7 percent).

■ Two of UK's last three opponents (Kansas is the other) have shot with less than 20-percent accuracy. On two-point shots, the first five UK opponents have shot with only 28.1-percent accuracy (49 of 174).

Correction

A story Saturday said that Montana State is in Havre, Mont. It is in Bozeman, Mont.

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