Mark Story

Kentucky defense suffocates another prey. EKU crushed 91-49 in Rupp.

Instant analysis from No. 2 Kentucky’s 91-49 win over Eastern Kentucky:

How the game was won

Showing no signs of a letdown after beating No. 1 Michigan State in the season opener Tuesday night, Kentucky held EKU without a point for the first 7:03 of the game, opened its home opener with a 14-0 run and rolled to an easy victory in an intrastate skirmish.

Who’s hot

1. Kentucky defense. Held Georgetown College to 25 percent shooting and Kentucky State to 25.9 percent in exhibition season. Held Michigan State to 39.2 and poor EKU to 25 percent (16-of-64).

The Cats “D” is going to choke the life out of a whole lot of teams in 2019-20.

2. Nick Richards. The UK big man hit 10 of 11 shots, scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds and four blocked shots vs. the smaller OVC team.

3. Immanuel Quickley. Kentucky guard quietly had 16 points and five assists.

4. Nate Sestina. Bucknell graduate transfer went for a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds.

5. Ashton Hagans. UK point guard stuffed the stat sheet — 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

6. Sweet Sixteen heroes returning to Rupp. First, former Scott High star Jake Ohmer threw in 25 points for Georgetown College in the Tigers’ exhibition loss to UK in Rupp. On Friday night, ex-Scott County star Michael Moreno drained four three-pointers for Eastern and led the Colonels with 14 points.

Both Ohmer and Moreno were familiar with playing in Rupp Arena after starring in the high school Sweet Sixteen.

Who’s not

1. Kentucky foul shooters. UK missed 11 of 32 foul shots. There is no need to email me with how many times poor foul shooting has sunk Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in recent years.

2. Kentucky three-point shooters. Cats were a chilly 2-of-14 on treys after making a so-so 6-of-18 against Michigan State.

3. EKU vs. SEC teams. Eastern Kentucky is now 1-42 against teams currently in the SEC — Alabama (0-2), Arkansas (0-2), Auburn (1-4), Florida (0-2), Georgia (0-2), Kentucky (0-13), LSU (0-0), Mississippi (0-2), Mississippi State (0-4), Missouri (0-1), South Carolina (0-1), Tennessee (0-5), Texas A&M (0-1) and Vanderbilt (0-3).

EKU’s win over Auburn came on Dec. 17, 1955, a 93-71 road victory.

Key number(s)

65 and 18. Kentucky is now 65-18 all-time against the other in-state NCAA Division I programs — Eastern Kentucky (13-0); Louisville (36-16); Morehead State (10-0); Murray State (0-0); Northern Kentucky (2-0); and Western Kentucky (4-2).

The ‘Cat-mosphere’

1. The duo of Miranda Brown and Courtney Smith did a melodious version of the national anthem.

2. Tyrese Maxey, hero of Kentucky’s victory over No. 1 Michigan State on Tuesday night, got a loud Rupp Arena ovation when he entered the game just before the first television timeout of the first half.

3. Two Tennessee fans, decked out in full UT orange, were sitting six rows off the floor in Rupp Arena in the end zone on the EKU bench end of the floor.

4. Former Scott County High School star Michael Moreno — looking quite at home in the venue where he played multiple Sweet Sixteen games — swished back-to-back three-pointers for Eastern Kentucky early in the second half.

After the second one, someone in the Rupp crowd screamed loudly, “Let’s go, Michael!”

EKU’s ‘Tour de Kentucky’

For the first time in state history, EKU will face every other in-state NCAA Division I team during one regular season. Still ahead are: Nov. 15 Western Kentucky; Dec. 8 at Northern Kentucky; Dec. 14 at Louisville; Feb. 13 at Morehead State; Feb. 27 at Murray State; and Feb. 29 Morehead State.

Up next

Kentucky (2-0) will face Evansville (0-0) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena in a game telecast by the SEC Network. The Purple Aces are coached by Walter McCarty, a starting forward on UK’s 1996 NCAA championship team.

Eastern Kentucky (1-1) will face Ohio University-Chillicothe on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at McBrayer Arena on the EKU campus.

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