By LARRY VAUGHT
It was the first game of the season, but even with a team dominated with freshmen no one could have anticipated Kentucky missing its last 15 shots in the first half.
Freshman Kevin Knox ended the drought with a 3-point shot early in the second half and seconds later scored on a dunk to key UK’s 73-63 comeback win.
Leading scorer Hamidou Diallo, who had 18 points, said it had to be first game jitters.
“We were missing shots we normally make on a daily basis — missing one footers. I would say out shots just weren’t falling but I like how we bounced back in the second half. That showed what type of team we are,” Diallo said.
“We just came out in the second half with more confidence and energy. We got rid of the first half jitters and basically, just came out fired up and ready to put them away.”
Kentucky had an 18-0 run in the second half in less than four minutes when it went 8-for-8 from the field after the first-half drought.
“It’s basketball, it’s gonna happen,” freshman center Nick Richards said of the 0-for-15 spell. “You just gotta get over it. You just gotta move on to the next play, think about the next play and try to get as much buckets as possible.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari said the 21 percent shooting the first half by his team was not that surprising.
“At halftime I said, this is good for us, let’s see who we are. Let’s see who is willing to fight. We went zone and it kind of got us going. But again, and that’s what we should use the zone for, but we, we had too many guys that were just getting beat on the dribble,” Calipari said.
“Too many guys out of position. But that’s what happens when you have all freshmen and a couple sophomores. That’s exactly what you see. But I was pleased with the guys. The second half you win by what you win by, you out rebound them by whatever, you hold them to 40 percent, we just didn’t shoot the ball well.
“We didn’t — we missed, I think they told me, 15 shots within two or three feet and some of it is because they had a shot blocker.”