Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist lead way for No. 2 Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)
Optimism abounds for the first-year coach who readily called his team a work-in-progress as the Highlanders fell 88-40 at No. 2 Kentucky.
Jones left the staff of Virginia Commonwealth after that school's Final Four run last year to take over a rebuilding effort at Radford. Playing the Wildcats at Rupp Arena showed just how far they have to go.
''It was a great experience for our guys to come in here and play in front of a great crowd,'' Jones said. ''I thought our guys battled. Coming into the game we knew they were going to be bigger, stronger, more athletic at every position.''
Terrence Jones scored 17 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 15 points and nine rebounds as Kentucky (5-0) improved to 35-0 at Rupp Arena since John Calipari took over as coach in 2009. The Wildcats have a final tuneup against Portland on Saturday before St. John's comes on Dec. 1 and No. 1 North Carolina visits two days later.
Radford (3-4) struggled against Kentucky's defensive pressure and athleticism. The Highlanders missed their first 12 shots and committed eight turnovers before finally scoring nearly 10 minutes into the game. They finished 2 of 25 from 3-point range.
''We had open shots,'' Mike Jones said. ''We had six or seven open shots at the beginning of the game that just didn't go down. We thought we could hurt them in transition and we got out in transition and got some looks but they didn't go down.''
Kentucky returned home for the first time since its season opener against Marist after a successful three-game road trip that featured a win over then-No. 13 Kansas in New York City and two more in Uncasville, Conn., over Penn State and Old Dominion to capture the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.
No one has come within double digits of the Wildcats so far this year, and Radford trailed 14-0 before Blake Smith hit a jumper with 10:27 left in the first half as the Highlanders missed their first 20 3-point attempts.
Kentucky took a 22-2 lead on Anthony Davis' putback before Radford scored back-to-back baskets.
Radford wasn't expected to provide much competition to Kentucky after losses to the Nittany Lions and Marist earlier this season. Kentucky beat those teams by 38 and 50 points, respectively, but came out with five early turnovers that had Calipari going to his bench in the opening minutes.
Kentucky pulled away quickly. Marquis Teague found Kidd-Gilchrist for a dunk that made it 29-6. Doron Lamb hit Kentucky's first 3-pointer after the Wildcats missed their first six attempts to put Kentucky ahead 38-12.
Jones followed with a 3 and an alley-oop slam over Javonte Green off another pass from Teague as the Wildcats rolled to a 45-14 halftime lead.
''When you play against a team like this you have to be very sharp offensively. You have to pay attention to detail,'' said Jonathan Edwards, who led Radford with 10 points and eight rebounds. ''They are a very good team and aren't No. 2 in the nation for nothing.''
Teague finished with 13 points, Davis 12 and Lamb 10 for the Wildcats.
When the Highlanders tried to run even a little, the Wildcats turned up the pressure.
After Radford scored consecutive baskets that made it 49-18, Kidd-Gilchrist hit a 3, Lamb fed Teague down court for an easy slam in transition and Lamb threw an alley-oop to Jones to make it 56-18 with 16:44 left.
The last time Radford faced the No. 2 team in the country it lost 101-58 to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament two years ago.
The Highlanders trailed by 43 in this one with more than 13 minutes to play and needed a basket by Jareal Smith in the final minute to avoid a school record for fewest points in a game in team history.
''This is one of the toughest nonconference schedules I have been a part of,'' Edwards said. ''This prepares us for where we want to be at the end of the season.''