Kentucky exacts revenge, romps RMU
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky on Sunday looked nothing like the team that lost to Robert Morris in the NIT in March.
That's because it is not. Not even close. Kentucky's 87-49 trouncing of RMU at Rupp Arena was not a rematch game, as was suggested. It was simply a mismatch.
The Wildcats started five freshmen who were in high school when the Colonials beat Kentucky at Sewall Arena in March. The Rupp crowd of 21,600 was about 18,000 more than in the first meeting. The talent gap between the clubs appears to be comparable.
“Obviously there are a lot of things for us to learn from this experience,” RMU coach Andy Toole said.
The Wildcats (2-1) struggled last season, a major disappointment by Kentucky standards. Now they are ranked No. 1, although a drop is imminent after last week's loss to Michigan State. They feature six freshmen who were McDonald's All-Americans and some valuable holdovers.
They were bigger, stronger and quicker. And they will only get better. The Colonials made 16 of 69 shots (23.2 percent) and were outrebounded by 23.
Some of the shots were rushed, “and we didn't have enough poise,” Toole said. But against a team like Kentucky, “You think you're open, and you're not, very quickly.”
The dilemma of the undersized, undermanned Colonials (2-1) was summed up by the decision to collapse inside on Julius Randle, a chiseled, agile 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward who is considered the likely No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Randle was a terror in his first four games, averaging 24 points and 14.3 rebounds a game. Toole said, “We kind of had to make a choice” defending him.
That choice was swarming Randle whenever he touched the ball.
Randle finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds. But guard Aaron Harrison, who came in scoring fewer than 10 points a game, had 28. He made 7 of 12 shots from the field, including 4 of 7 3-pointers.
“Honestly, Aaron hadn't shot it great — until tonight,” Toole said.
RMU missed its first eight shots and went the first 8:24 without a field goal. The Colonials appeared to be rattled at the start.
“We seemed to be a little overwhelmed,” said RMU guard Karvel Anderson, who scored 16 points but missed 12 of 17 shots. “I don't know if it was the atmosphere or the stage or their talent.”
A senior, Anderson is trying to fill the leadership void left by the departures of Velton Jones and Russell Johnson. As such, he did not spare himself or his teammates.
“They have God-given talent,” he said of Kentucky. “But I don't think our attitude was what it should have been. We weren't poised enough, tough enough or confident enough.”
Toole said the Colonials played hard, if not particularly well.
“We'll build on some of the mistakes, so when we get in similar atmospheres we'll be more equipped to play better,” he said.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who grew up in Moon near the RMU campus, said he never watched the tape of the NIT game and never will.
“That thing's over,” he said. “This is a new team.”
Toole also said it's time to move on.
“Now that it's over with and the second part of it has occurred, order has been restored maybe,” he said with a slight, sardonic smile.