Instant analysis from No. 2 Kentucky’s 71-59 win over Southern Illinois:
How the game was won
Nick Richards grabbed 19 rebounds and Kentucky put four players in doubles figures led by freshmen Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson with 15 points apiece as the No. 2 Wildcats rallied from seven down in the second half to subdue plucky Southern Illinois.
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1. Nick Richards. The sophomore big man (eight points, 19 rebounds, three blocked shots) got the Cats going with his energy.
2. Immanuel Quickley and Quade Green. The Kentucky guards stepped up and made shots. Freshman Quickley finished with 15 points, sophomore Green with 14.
3. Keldon Johnson and EJ Montgomery. In the bounce and athleticism of the two UK freshmen, you see the potential of what Kentucky can become.
4. Kavion Pippen. The Southern Illinois center did his famous uncle — Scottie Pippen of Chicago Bulls fame — proud with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
5. Southern Illinois fans. Apparently, “Salukis get in.” Judging by the cheers in Rupp Arena each time SIU scored, Southern Illinois fans represented in Rupp. They even had an “S-I-U! S-I-U!’ chant going at one point.
Running suicide drills
1. UK ball handlers. Fourteen first-half turnovers vs. five assists is not a quotient that will beat quality power-five competition. One of the turnovers did cause John Calipari to slam his hand into the scorer’s table, however, which was entertaining. Only five second-half turnovers was an improvement, though.
2. PJ Washington and Reid Travis. The starting UK post men — Travis six points, five rebounds; Washington three points, six rebounds — never really got untracked.
40 and 4. UK has now won 40 of its 44 home openers in Rupp Arena. The four losses were: 85-82 to Northwestern State in 1988-89; 73-68 to Penn State in 2000-01; 64-52 to Western Kentucky in 2001-02; and 111-103 to Virginia Military Institute in 2008-09.
A less-than-capacity Rupp Arena crowd of 20,277 had to be cajoled before tip-off by game hosts Ravi Moss and Maria Montgomery to cheer with vigor. ... There appeared to be a pent-up craving for Rupp Arena ice cream. The halftime lines looked even longer than normal.
Kentucky (1-1) returns to action against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 9 p.m. at Rupp Arena in a game that will be telecast by the SEC Network. UND Coach Brian Jones has three starters back from last year’s team that finished 12-20. North Dakota (1-0) won its season opener 104-48 over Northland College on Tuesday night and have a road game at Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory