LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — If Archie Goodwin gets close to a triple double again, the Kentucky freshman doesn’t want to know.
At the rate he’s going right now, that milestone isn’t far away.
Goodwin scored 22 points and finished a rebound and an assist shy of a triple double on Friday night, an effort that helped the No. 8 Wildcats run away from LIU-Brooklyn 104-75.
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Winning mattered more to Goodwin than being the first Wildcat to post a triple-double since Chris Mills had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Dec. 27, 1988. But at least he knows that achievement is within reach — as long as his teammates keep it to themselves.
“I wish they wouldn’t have told me, because then I started thinking too much about trying to get it,” Goodwin said. “But it was still a good night. I can live with it.”
Fellow freshman Alex Poythress scored 22 and grabbed nine rebounds, falling just short of his first career double-double. He and Goodwin led the way on a night that five Kentucky players scored in double figures.
Freshman forward Nerlens Noel scored 18 points and had eight rebounds for Kentucky (4-1). Graduate transfer guard Julius Mays had 15 points and six assists and freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein had 12 points for hot-shooting Kentucky, which finished 42 of 62 from the field (68 percent).
“It doesn’t matter who is scoring,” said Poythress, who matched his career high while posting his fourth straight 20-point game. “It just matters who is hot right now. Whoever is hot, just feed it to them and keep going to them.”
The Wildcats outrebounded the Blackbirds 41-24 in winning their third straight.
But it wasn’t easy early. Kentucky had to rally against LIU-Brooklyn (0-4), which led by six midway through the first half and 43-40 before the Wildcats closed the half with a 15-0 run.
The rout was on after that as Kentucky held LIU-Brooklyn to 33 percent shooting in the second half while outscoring the Blackbirds 49-32.
Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere each scored 22 points for the Blackbirds, who shot 42 percent overall.
“Obviously not the outcome that we were looking for,” Blackbirds coach Jack Perri said. “We had about 17 minutes in the first half where we were up 42-40, 43-40 and that big run obviously turned the game around.”
There were 10 lead changes and nine ties, and in some ways the game resembled what Kentucky faced in Wednesday’s 81-70 victory over Morehead State.
But whereas Morehead State played tough, physical defense against Kentucky, LIU-Brooklyn came at the Wildcats with quickness and scoring. The Blackbirds averaged 81.4 points per game last season and entered Friday’s game at 80.7.
For most of the first half the Blackbirds showed the same determination as the Eagles did two nights ago. Boyd got his team started by scoring eight of their first 15 points, including three straight baskets to provide a 15-13 edge.
LIU-Brooklyn wasn’t afraid to take it inside against Kentucky’s big men, either.
Olasewere had a dunk and converted a three-point play after a drive on Noel. Boyd added baskets inside and outside and quick 6-foot guard Jason Brickman came off the bench to contribute a couple of shots en route to an eight-point half.
The result was LIU-Brooklyn’s biggest lead at 32-26, creating some uneasiness among the Rupp Arena crowd of 22,221.
“That’s why we wanted to play these kind of teams that would come after us, not be afraid, come in here with the attitude that they could win,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
An 8-2 run helped the Wildcats tie the game at 34 and the teams traded baskets for several minutes before the Blackbirds took their final lead at 43-40 with four minutes remaining in the half. Kentucky closed with 15 straight points over the final 3:30 with the freshmen playing a big role — especially Goodwin, who scored six of his 15 over that stretch.
“We just started playing harder and with more intensity and that’s what helped us,” Kentucky guard Jarrod Polson said.
The Wildcats finished the half 23 of 33 (67 percent). LIU-Brooklyn shot 48 percent but missed its last seven.
Kentucky opened the second half with a 13-8 run over 3:54 to break the game wide open.
“It doesn’t matter if they are big or small,” Boyd said. “You have to stick to the game plan and we just have to play better from here on out.”
The Wildcats were more careful with the ball, committing just 10 turnovers while finishing with 28 assists.