No. 2 Kentucky handles Stephen F. Austin 87-64 in opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Isaiah Briscoe scored 17 points, Derek Willis added 15 and No. 2 Kentucky went on to an 87-64 season-opening victory over Stephen F. Austin on Friday night.
An opener expected to highlight the Wildcats' latest class of highly touted recruits instead saw veterans such as sophomore guard Briscoe and Willis, a senior forward, shoulder the load. They combined to make 11 of 18 from the field while their experience offset the newcomers' early shooting troubles. Seven-foot sophomore Isaac Humphries (9 points, 8 rebounds) filled a big inside void with 6-10 freshman Bam Adebayo (five points) hampered by foul trouble.
Several freshmen did their part with forward Wenyen Gabriel scoring 10 first-half points off the bench. Guard De'Aaron Fox added 12 points and 12 assists while Malik Monk had 10 second-half points.
Isaiah Traylor scored 15 points and Leon Gilmore III 12 for Stephen F. Austin, which lost the debut of coach Kyle Keller.
Stephen F. Austin: Early on the Lumberjacks resembled the competitive NCAA Tournament team that upset third-seeded West Virginia before losing by five points to No. 6 seed Notre Dame in the second. They initially outrebounded Kentucky and slowed the pace before the Wildcats' height and depth took over. Keller became first of three SFA coaches this century to lose his debut, but the Lumberjacks should make a strong push for their first straight Southland Conference regular season title.
Kentucky: Willis followed up last season's breakout by being the steadying force early, making 3 of 4 field goal with two blocks. He finished with five rebounds. Humphries was a pleasant surprise with Adebayo spending much of the first half on the bench. The Wildcats were still outrebounded 36-28, however.
Stephen F. Austin: Returns home to host Longwood on Tuesday and regroup from the loss.
Kentucky: Hosts Canisius on Sunday in the first meeting between the schools since 1998. The Wildcats have won previous games against the Golden Griffins and seek a strong tuneup before facing No. 12 Michigan State on Tuesday in New York.
AP college basketball: collegebasketball.ap.org