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Robert Morris Basketball

Kentucky Bludgeons Robert Morris, 100-60

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s safe to say that Kentucky has learned its lesson from being on the wrong end of Robert Morris’ historic upset in the 2013 NIT. This time, the Wildcats didn’t leave anything to chance.

Kentucky started the game on a 13-2 run and never let Robert Morris get closer than six after that, as a combination of the Wildcats’ shooting and a dominant rebounding performance from ex-West Virginia big man Oscar Tshiebwe proved too much for the Colonials in a 100-60 rout on Friday night at Rupp Arena.

“Kentucky played an outstanding game, and we did not,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “I think they were mostly responsible for us not playing very well and we were partially responsible. The amount of pressure they put on you all over the floor over the course of 40 minutes is something that we obviously can’t replicate as we prepare.

“When they’re shooting the ball as well as they’re shooting the ball with the combination of Oscar in the middle, it puts too much pressure on your defense and your offense to be able to find any kind of success. It was an outstanding performance by them.”

The Wildcats (2-0) shot a blistering 57.1 percent from the floor, led by 19 points from Kellan Grady. When they did miss, Tshiebwe was usually there to keep the Colonials (0-2) from getting into their offensive set. The Kennedy Catholic graduate topped his performance against Duke by grabbing 20 rebounds, 10 coming on the offensive glass.

“The post game for us, if we’re going to be legitimate, we’ve got to be able to do that,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “We’re not going to be able to make 12 threes every game, so we have to have a high two-point field goal percentage. That means you’ve got to get some layups, some lobs and some post play.”

The Wildcats did all of the above against the Colonials, making Robert Morris’ chance of pulling an upset virtually zero. The closest the Colonials came to making it a game was eight minutes in, when they trailed just 16-10. However, the combination of the Wildcats’ spectacular play and Justin Winston having to sit with two early fouls took Robert Morris out of its game completely, and once Kentucky re-asserted itself, the game was essentially over.

“One of the things we wanted to try to do was attack Oscar with some ball screen situations,” Toole said. “We thought we could move him around and challenge him, whether it was on the perimeter with Justin Winston or Kahliel Spear, or maybe he starts to cheat to those guys and we get some opportunities to get them help and he’s away from the rim. With Justin having to go out, Matt Mayers isn’t necessarily in that mold of a forward. That allowed him to match up with Oscar and Oscar to have more of an impact on the game.

“That part was certainly frustrating, because we obviously needed all of our players to be fully available at all times. Everything needed to go entirely perfect to give ourselves a chance, and when one of your better players goes down with two fouls early, it becomes that much more difficult to really compete.”

With Tshiebwe essentially camped in the lane, the Colonials had to find whatever shots they could get. Michael Green III led the Colonials with 12 points, but didn’t score in the second half. Winston did break through for three second-half 3-pointers, but by then, it was far too late to matter. Kentucky never let up, in part because Tshiebwe wouldn’t allow it.

“I told the guys that playing Robert Morris, this was like the Super Bowl for them,” Tshiebwe said. “If we didn’t play our game, they were going to beat us.”

The Colonials didn’t come close to that on Friday, with the biggest positive of the night most likely being that they’ll see a much less stern test when they return to the court Monday against Ohio.

“We’ll have to go review the film before we can find what the positives are,” Toole said. “I thought there were some signs of life from Matt Mayers and Mattia (Acunzo) gave us some decent minutes. We’ve got to continue to build our depth and our rotation and try to figure out what combinations of guys can go out and contribute in a positive way.”

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Dennis Robert Wagner
22 days ago

5, 5* recruits for 2022, not just on a list by Kentucky’s primary recruiter Antigua Ontario. If the name sound familiar it is because he is a Pitt basketball alumni, and former A>C., at Pitt. No brainer, recruiting at Pitt will be harder than at Kentucky but Antigua has a nationally know recruiting reputation. I would as of tomorrow buy out Capel, write of this season offer the H.C job to Antigua so he can bring in some recruits for 2022 to help Jefferes and Hughley next year. And by 2023 based on his actual reputation as a recruiter has… Read more »

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