No. 2 Kentucky 88, Radford 40
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)
Kentucky coach John Calipari decided to give Marquis Teague one turnover per half before he'd start hounding his newest point guard. The freshman responded with his most efficient game so far for the Wildcats.
Teague finished with 13 points, five assists and just two turnovers, and No. 2 Kentucky beat Radford 88-40 on Wednesday night in the Wildcats' first home game in nearly two weeks.
''Everybody's just been telling me to come out, play aggressive, just play my game,'' said Teague, who had 18 turnovers in his first four games. ''A lot of other games I was just thinking too much, trying to do too much. So I just wanted to come out and make things easy.''
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 Calipari took over as coach in 2009.
The Wildcats have a final tuneup against Portland on Saturday before St. John's comes to town on Dec. 1 and No. 1 North Carolina visits two days later.
Calipari is known for grooming point guards, dating to his days with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis. In two years at Kentucky, Calipari has tutored a pair of point guards that have developed into first-round NBA draft picks: John Wall and Brandon Knight.
But the coach has said he needs to do a better job teaching Teague, who acknowledged he needs to work on hiding his emotions better during games.
''This has been the hardest time ever for me in my life that I've played point guard,'' Teague said. ''Coach Cal expects a lot from his point guards. You've got to run his team and still be able to get yourself going. It's pretty tough.''
But he had plenty of reasons to smile in this one as Kentucky got off to a fast start with its defensive pressure and athleticism.
Radford (3-4) missed its first 12 shots and committed eight turnovers before finally scoring nearly 10 minutes into the game. The Highlanders finished 2 of 25 from 3-point range.
Johnathan Edwards had 10 points and eight rebounds for Radford.
''I thought our guys battled,'' Highlanders coach Mike Jones said. ''Coming into the game we knew they were going to be bigger, stronger, more athletic at every position.''
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.
''After Old Dominion you had a lot of players in there wondering if they were any good and wondering if our team was any good,'' Calipari said. ''We play Penn State, we're world beaters, we're beating anybody, where's the Lakers? Then, you (play) ODU and you're like, `Oh my gosh, we're not very good and I'm not very good and what is wrong with me?'''
But no one has come within double digits of the Wildcats so far this season, and Radford already trailed 14-0 before Blake Smith's 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. Davis finished with 12 points.
Radford wasn't expected to provide much competition for 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 than had Calipari going to his bench in the opening minutes.
Kentucky pulled away quickly.
Teague found Kidd-Gilchrist for a dunk that made it 29-6. Doron Lamb, who had 10 points, 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.
''It's still early and he's going to get it, just like all the other point guards got it,'' Jones said.
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 downcourt 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've ever been a part of,'' Edwards said. ''This prepares us for where we want to be at the end of the season.''