College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, November 8, 2013
Touted as possibly the best freshman class ever assembled, John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats took to the hardwood for the first time in the 2013-14 season Friday night, proving to any skeptics that the fabulous freshman class was going to deliver, possibly beyond expectations.
Led by Juluis Randle's 23 points and 15 rebounds, the Wildcats, after a somewhat disorganized first half, took a 41-31 lead at the break and ran away in the second half for an 89-57 victory, outscoring the visiting bulldogs, 48-26, over the final 20 minutes.
Randle, a 6'9", 250 lb. freshman beast out of Prestonwood Christian High School in Dallas, Texas, dominated the interior, grabbing five offensive rebounds and 10 off the defensive glass. Though he shot just 6-for-12 from the field, he was frequently fouled in his 26 minutes of floor time, canning 11 of 13 free throws, showing a deft touch for a big man.
Four other Kentucky players scored in double figures, led by Randle's 23.
The Wildcats were ranked #1 in all preseason polls, apparently for good reason. The team, one of the youngest ever assembled, carries nine freshmen, two sophomores and just five upperclassmen.
Kentucky will have another tune-up on Saturday, when they host Northern Kentucky at Rupp Arena prior to their showdown with #2 Michigan State on Tuesday night, in the opening game of the Champions Classic at Chicago's United Center. As part of an early season double-header, the second game features #4 Duke, meeting #5 Kansas.
The Spartans hammered McNeese State, 98-56, Friday night in their season opener. Duke routed Davidson, 111-77; the Jayhawks opened their season with an 80-63 win over Louisiana-Monroe.