Buffalo-Kentucky Preview

BY foxsports • November 15, 2014

Give top-ranked Kentucky credit for some creative scheduling in the early season.

The Wildcats are beginning with two easy home games, and both feature some pretty famous coaches for the overmatched visitors.

Former Duke star Bobby Hurley is no doubt reviled by the Wildcats faithful and he is now the coach of Buffalo ahead of Sunday's matchup at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky faces a major test Tuesday in Indianapolis against No. 5 Kansas. Before that, coach John Calipari scheduled two tuneups to put his new platoon system into place.

The first was Friday's 85-45 win over Grand Canyon for the Wildcats' second-largest victory in an opener in the last 20 years. Kentucky played a terrific first half in which it built a 27-point lead, limited the Antelopes to six baskets and forced 13 turnovers.

The problem for Calipari was that the second half didn't unfold the way he preferred.

''The first half, it was good,'' the coach said. ''The second half was not good. We never got in rhythm. We never made extra passes, so we kind of reverted. But I expect some of that early.''

Andrew Harrison scored 16 points, including the Wildcats' first seven of the game. He is part of the first platoon of Kentucky players that includes brother Aaron, Alex Poythress, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. Those starters combined for 52 points.

The other platoon features sophomores Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson and freshmen Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles. They accounted for the other 33 points, though Calipari wasn't as pleased with their effort.

"I told them when we're playing this way you really have to do and remember your job," the coach said. "You can't break it off and do what you're choosing to do. If we're having a scheme on defense, you got to do the scheme."

After facing a Grand Canyon team coached by former NBA star Dan Majerle, the next visiting team also has a notable coach - especially to Kentucky fans.

Hurley is known best as the point guard who led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1991 and 1992. The second championship season included a 104-103 overtime win over Kentucky in which Christian Laettner hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer after a court-length pass from Grant Hill.

While Hurley can expect boos Sunday, he is more concerned about following up a successful debut season as Buffalo coach in which his team went 19-10 in 2013-14. His Bulls opened with Friday's 69-67 win over South Dakota State.

Junior forward Justin Moss fouled out with career highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead Buffalo, which won despite 32.4 percent shooting.

"It was a hard-fought game tonight and even though we didn't play our best, I am happy to get a win to start the season," Hurley told the Bulls' official website. "We put an emphasis on our rebounding and our defense and we were able to take advantage of that against a very physical team tonight."

These schools have never met.