November 14, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
Wildcats Top Great Danes For First Victory; Willis gets Career High
Derek Willis came off the bench to score all of his career high 14 points in the first half to help the #2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Great Danes of Albany 78-65 last night in front of a Rupp Arena Crowd of 22,080. Willis finished the game with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 28 minutes for one of his best all around performances as a Kentucky Wildcat.
“If Derek doesn’t play in the first half, it’s probably a one bucket game at halftime,” Calipari said. “And it, literally, they couldn’t make a free throw or a shot. And then when they started playing they realized, oh my gosh, we can beat these guys. We got them down 20, instead of going to 25. We don’t have that kind of will.”
Kentucky (1-0) led for the entire first half shooting an efficient 46 percent from the field on 13-28 shooting while holding the Great Danes (0-1) to 9-25 for 36 percent from the field. The Wildcats went in to the half with a 38-27 lead, but was sloppy with the basketball committing 11 turnovers while only dishing out 7 assists. Albany was 0-8 from the three-point line and had 6 steals going into the half down only 11.
The Wildcats used a 12 to 6 run to start the second half and stretch the lead to 17 at the 14:44 mark leading 50-33. The game would continue to be sloppy as Kentucky could never put the Great Danes away and they finished the game with 20 turnovers to only 16 assists. The bright spot in the second half was the outstanding play of freshman guard Jamal Murray who finished the game with a team high 19 points while dishing out 8 assists with 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Jamal scored in a variety a ways, such as finishing at the rim off curls to the basket and attacking the glass highlighted by a put back two-handed dunk off a three-point miss from Derek Willis with 2:12 remaining in the game that sent the crowd into a frenzy and pushed Kentucky’s lead to 14 at 75-61.
“He (Jamal Murray) made some big plays to stretch the game out.” said Calipari after the game.
Defensively, the Wildcats held the Great Danes to 7.1% shooting from the three-point line on 1-14 shooting, but only out-rebounded Albany by six boards 34-28. Peter Hooley led the way for the Great Danes in the defeat scoring 18 points, with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. While Derek Willis made the most out of his minutes to score his career high, Calipari knows there is plenty to work on in the young season in order for this team to reach its full potential at the end of the year.