Tyler Herro helps Kentucky’s improved defense
Instant analysis from No. 10 Kentucky’s 90-44 win over Monmouth:
How the game was won
Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro produced a strong, all-around game (16 points, eight rebounds, five steals) and UK’s much-maligned, three-point defense held struggling Monmouth (0-8) to 2-of-16 shooting from deep as the No. 10 Wildcats romped.
1. Tyler Herro. The “Euro-step” that the UK guard unleashed Wednesday night would have done Manu Ginobili proud.
2. Kentucky three-point defenders. Seemed turned up a couple of notches in intensity. But Monmouth came to Lexington struggling to make treys (25.2 percent for the season entering the game).
3. Jeff Brohm. Did more Wednesday to make Kentucky fans happy than anything that happened on the basketball court.
Running suicide drills
1. King Rice. The former North Carolina point guard coached Monmouth to back-to-back seasons of 28 and 27 wins in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He better hope that has banked a lot of good will at the New Jersey school because Monmouth looks headed for a very long year.
2. UK sports marketers. It would have seemed the perfect night to have Kentucky football star Josh Allen — famously a former Monmouth football commitment — make “the Y” in Rupp.
3. Anyone who paid full price to attend the game. Let’s just say it was not rip-roaring entertainment. If you have season tickets, remind yourself Kansas is coming to Rupp Arena Jan. 26.
Eleven and two. The Cats have now won 11 of 13 all-time games against teams from New Jersey — 3-0 vs. Rider; 2-0 vs. Monmouth; 1-0 vs. NJIT; 1-0 vs. Rutgers; 3-1 vs. Princeton; 1-1 vs. Seton Hall.
▪ An 8:30 p.m. tip-off on a weeknight against a winless foe did not have fans filling the seats in Rupp Arena. There were a good number of empty seats as the game started. The announced attendance (a count of the number of tickets distributed for the game) was 18,860.
▪ Karl and Jacqueline Towns, the parents of ex-Cat Karl-Anthony Towns, were in Rupp for Wednesday’s game and recognized on the giant video boards at the under-12 timeout in the first half.
▪ Former Kentucky forward Winston Bennett was “the Y.”
Kentucky (6-1) will face UNC Greensboro (7-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rupp Arena in a game that will be telecast by ESPN2 (this is a change from what was originally released on UK’s schedule which showed the game at 4 p.m. and broadcast on the SEC Network).
Coach Wes Miller’s Spartans will be a major step up in competition from the teams John Calipari’s Wildcats have been playing since UK suffered a 118-84 demolition against Duke in the season opener. A season ago, UNC Greensboro finished 27-8, won the Southern Conference regular season and tournament tiles and threw a major scare into Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament round of 64 before falling 68-64.
With three starters back from that team, UNC Greensboro entered 2018-19 with high expectations. The Spartans’ sole loss so far this season came at then-No. 23 LSU, 97-91, in a shootout.
Senior guard Francis Alonso, a 6-foot-3 product of Malaga, Spain, is off to a torrid start, averaging 19 points a game and shooting 54.3 percent from the field, 46.2 on three-pointers and 93.3 on free throws. James Dickey, a 6-10, 210-pound rim protector from Raleigh, N.C., is averaging 7.5 ppg, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.
Kentucky and UNC Greensboro have never met before.
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory