Kentucky honored former coach Tubby Smith before its last game.
Then the 18th-ranked Wildcats (11-2) went out and spoiled the evening for Smith’s High Point team in a 92-48 rout Friday night.
Kentucky will try to ruin another ceremony when it opens SEC play against No. 16 LSU, which will formally name its court for former coach Dale Brown on Tuesday night in Baton Rouge, La.
“When we make shots like we made (against High Point) we are going to beat people and there will be big margins,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
The Wildcats shot 59 percent from the floor and had 23 assists on 39 field goals. They made 18 of 31 field goals in the first half to build a 43-25 halftime lead.
Kellan Grady led the way with 23 points, making seven 3-pointers on 10 attempts.
“He’s shooting the ball well,” Calipari said. “He’s confident, and he knows if he does not shoot it, he’s coming out. Now, we have some other guys that just can’t make it right now, and that’s fine. But their job is to shoot balls, and hopefully as we keep going, those guys will make shots.”
TyTy Washington made three of five 3-pointers and scored 15 points.
“We don’t really care who scores,” Washington said, “as long as we are producing and coming out with a win at the end of the day.”
The Wildcats, who will be playing their first true road game since a 66-62 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 11, figure to have a much more difficult challenge against the Tigers, who won their first 12 games before losing at No. 11 Auburn 70-55 in their SEC opener last Wednesday.
“They are going to press and put pressure on us,” Calipari said of the Tigers. “They are very good.”
Fifth-year LSU coach Will Wade is trying to rebuild the Tigers program to the heights it enjoyed during Brown’s 25-year tenure, which included trips to the Final Four in 1981 and 1986.
“We’re made up of the right stuff,” Wade said. “We’re going to be really good this year. We’re really good right now.”
Wade said the Tigers “just lost our way a little bit” in the loss to Auburn, falling behind 18-1 while missing their first 16 field-goal attempts.
They played without starting shooting guard Brandon Murray, who was sidelined by a hamstring injury, and the team shot 28.6 percent (18-of-63) from the floor, making just six 3-pointers in 29 attempts.
“I still feel great about this team; we’ve got great people, we’ve got great chemistry,” Wade said. “We played extremely hard. We just didn’t play with enough discipline and we didn’t make shots.”
LSU hurt itself with 17 turnovers.
“This was some guys’ first SEC game,” senior Darius Days said. “We try to prepare them on different stories when we first came into the SEC and kind of the growing pains we have to go through.”
The Tigers allowed 70 points for the first time this season.
“We weren’t going undefeated,” Wade said. “We’re built on a rock-solid foundation. Every time we learn a lesson, we bounce back. We’re going to be ready to go (against Kentucky).”
–Field Level Media