By LARRY VAUGHT
Monmouth coach King Rice saw a lot of familiar faces in Rupp Arena Wednesday night. He knew Kentucky players P.J. Washington and Immanuel Quickley thought USA basketball. He even got to meet Paul Washington, the UK player’s father.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ father played at Monmouth and he was at Wednesday’s game along with his wife.
Rice joked there were a “lot of nice things going on” other than Kentucky belting his team 90-44.
“I told our kids that the fans were going to treat us so nice when we walked into the building and everybody was going to be saying, ‘Welcome to the Commonwealth, we’re happy to see you, welcome, welcome,’ because I’ve been here a few times and then after they whoop you they say, ‘Hey, you really did a good job. I hope you see you back soon.’”
Rice said he wasn’t sure his team would be back any time soon but he left Rupp Arena impressed with UK.
“Kentucky’s a super talented team. You watch it on tape and you think you can get into some spots where you think you can have some success, and you try to do it, and they just close those spots up very quickly, and they meet you at the rim, and it’s just a different level of a young man that you’re facing,” Rice said.
Kentucky coach John Calipari told Rice after the game that UK played the best it had all season, especially when it came to making 3-pointers and defending the 3.
“He’s such a good friend of mine and he’s so nice to me. I know he feels bad that his team beat us like that, but maybe that was one of their better games. It seemed like they made every 3 pointer, and I hadn’t seen them do that this year, and there were multiple guys stepping in, and as soon as they let it go you knew it was going in,” Rice said.
“We didn’t even have to deal with the crowd really going after us. We know Coach Calipari is good as anybody at getting his kids to do what he needs them to do and look out at that team, at their numbers, and I know schools like this and schools like North Carolina, they lost that first game early and that game could be a great game at the end of the year.
“This is a really god basketball team, that’s deep. They seem to really like each other, they share the ball, and they’ll be a top five when they get to March.”