Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after UK’s 77-62 win over Tennessee State

Kentucky Coach John Calipari took in the action as the Wildcats played Tennessee State in Rupp Arena on Friday night.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari took in the action as the Wildcats played Tennessee State in Rupp Arena on Friday night. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Instant analysis from No. 10 Kentucky’s 77-62 win over Tennessee State:

How the game was won

Kentucky got a star turn from swingman Keldon Johnson (27 points) and converted 27 of 41 free throws in grinding out an ugly victory over plucky Tennessee State.

Game balls

1. Keldon Johnson. The 6-foot-6 freshman (27 points, seven rebounds) looking like Kentucky’s best “three man” since James Young (2013-14).

Or maybe since Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2011-12).

2. Reid Travis. The play of the burly graduate transfer from Stanford isn’t always artistic — but it is effective (13 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots).

3. UK’s foul-drawing. Free-throw line was difference in game. Kentucky shot 41, making 27, while TSU went 12-of-19.

4. Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey. The transfer from Mississippi looked like an SEC-caliber player for Tennessee State, making eight of 14 shots and scoring 18 points.

Running suicide drills

1. UK sophomores. For PJ Washington (1-of-6 field goals), Quade Green (2-of-6 field goals) and Nick Richards (two points, one rebound) it was a lean night.

2. Tennessee State three-point shooting. The visiting Tigers were not able to take advantage of UK’s early-season defensive bugaboo, taking only 14 treys and making five.

Key number(s)

40 and 0. UK is now 40-0 against teams currently in the Ohio Valley Conference — Austin Peay (5-0); Belmont (1-0); Eastern Kentucky (11-0); Jacksonville State (1-0); Morehead State (10-0); Tennessee State (5-0); Tennessee Tech (5-0); Tennessee-Martin (2-0).

UK has never played current OVC members Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

The Cat-mosphere

Signs of the season: One UK fan in the lower arena was decked out in a (big) blue Santa Claus suit.

Spotted on the concourse at halftime: Rocky Adkins, Minority Leader of the Kentucky State House of Representatives and recently announced Democratic candidate for governor in 2019, and State Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.

The announced crowd of 20,224 was in mid-season form in jeering Tennessee State foul shooters in an attempt to win a free chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A by cajoling two straight missed free throws.

Up next

Kentucky (5-1) will next face Monmouth (0-6) Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 8:30 p.m. in Rupp Arena in a game that will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

Coach King Rice’s Hawks are not only winless, going into Saturday’s home game with Princeton, Monmouth has yet to play an opponent within single digits. The Hawks have lost to Lehigh (85-61); at Colgate (87-74); at St. Joseph’s (78-63); and to West Virginia (71-53); Valparaiso (64-53) and Cal State Fullerton (87-63) in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C.

UK and Monmouth have met only once before, a 93-76 Kentucky victory on Dec. 9, 2017, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory

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