Kentucky runs away from Samford
DEC 04, 2012 8:30p ET
Nerlens Noel added 13 points while Julius Mays and Kyle Wiltjer each had 10 for the Wildcats (5-3), who shot 34 of 61 from the field (56 percent) against the Bulldogs after hitting just 40 of 118 in back-to-back losses against Notre Dame and Baylor.
Those defeats led to Kentucky falling from No. 8 last week to out of the Top 25, ending a 61-week stay in the poll that included 11 weeks at No. 1. The Wildcats responded by outrebounding the Bulldogs 41-25 and holding them to 40 percent shooting.
Raijon Kelly scored 14 points for Samford (2-8), which didn't score its 10th point until 4:15 remained in the half.
Willie Cauley-Stein added 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Kentucky, coming off a rough week that left the Wildcats outside the Top 25 for the first time under coach John Calipari.
At the very least Calipari wanted more aggression from his players after they struggled to challenge Baylor on shots or for rebounds in Saturday's 64-55 loss. The coach even called out his squad about their commitment on Monday, suggesting that his team could benefit from some extra time in the gym.
For one half, the Wildcats gave their coach what they wanted.
Defensively, they dove for loose balls and challenged the Bulldogs on almost every shot and pass. The first-half result was 4-of-20 shooting (20 percent), a 23-13 rebounding advantage and 14 turnovers leading to 24 points.
Kentucky was just as impressive with the ball, shooting 17 of 32 from the field in the first half while committing just seven turnovers. The Wildcats' control of the boards included a 6-1 edge in offensive rebounds that seemed to please their coach the most.
That effort provided a 45-14 halftime lead, a total nearly matching their overall output the past two games. Kentucky entered the game having scored just 50 points against Notre Dame and 55 against Baylor.
Kentucky was even better shooting in the second half (58 percent) but only outscored Samford 43-42 as defensive lapses allowed the Bulldogs to find their way offensively.
Clide Geffrard had 12 points and Tim Williams and Connor Miller 11 each for Samford.