By LARRY VAUGHT
So much for Kentucky looking past Missouri to Kansas.
Led by three early 3-pointers from Derek Willis — who had his second double-double in four games with 18 points and 12 rebounds — the Cats rolled over Missouri 85-54 Wednesday night.
“I just think we got run over by a truck early in the game (when UK went on a 20-0 run) and it just took us a while to get back up. I thought they played with an incredible amount of energy. It reminded me a lot of last year’s game (when Kentucky won 86-37). For whatever reason, I thought they were really energized,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said.
Point guard Tyler Ulis recorded his seventh 20-point game in the last nine – 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and eight assists. Freshman Skal Labissiere had 12 points and five blocks off the bench.
“We are getting better as a team,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “A big part is putting Derek Willis in the role he is. He has changed our team. Now it’s all guys that can play basketball. Derek gives us another stretch guy you have to go play. Let’s Isaiah do his thing. Post up Alex where he should be.
“He is rebounding, too. He is going after every ball with two hands. I think since put him in the lineup he is averaging double-digit rebounds and stretching the floor out. He has made us a different team.”
Anderson was impressed not only with Willis, but also Ulis.
“I thought they were very efficient. I thought they really executed well and Ulis just controls the game. He just takes over the game. Not just scoring but playmaking. Tonight he made shots. I just think he controls the game,” Anderson said.
Calipari likes part of what Labissiere is doing as well.
“We are playing desperate now. We are playing with an attitude. Refuse to lose. Alex didn’t. No idea why he didn’t. Marcus Lee no energy. Went with Skal. Issue with Skal is I probably screwed him up (playing him inside). But he had no rebounds. He had five blocks that left him in the game,” Calipari said. “It makes our team different when he blocks shots, but he must rebound and a post guy just can’t turn and score on you.”