By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky went just 1-for-12 from 3-point range against Utah Valley Monday night and got outscored 30-3 from 3-point range but yet still won 82-74.
Utah Valley coach Mark Madsen said he understands how a team can struggle from 3-point range, especially early in the season.
“We know Kentucky has great shooters, just like in our program when we had a game or two where we weren’t making them,” Madsen said. “We knew that we would shoot them better later. And obviously you saw TJ (Washington) do that tonight and you saw a lot of our guys step up and make threes tonight.
“And so, the shooting in any program will come. Obviously, the line just got moved back a foot, a little bit more than that.”
Utah Valley used Washington’s 3-point shoot to cut a 16-point Kentucky lead to two at one point when it missed a 3-point shot to take the lead.
“Scrappiness, toughness, intensity no matter who we’re playing and I think you guys saw that tonight. I was really pleased with our guys. Obviously, we put the Wildcats at the free throw line too much and we didn’t get to the line enough,” Madsen said.
Kentucky made 31 of 34 free throws while Utah Valley was 11 of 18. It was UK’s second best free throw shooting percentage under Calipari with 30 attempts. The only one better came in 2012 when UK was 35 of 37 against Indiana and first time to make 30 since doing it against Auburn in 2015. Ashton Hagans also went 12-for-12 at the line, UK’s first perfect night with 10 or more attempts since Jodie Meeks went 14-for-14 at Tennessee in 2009 during his record 54-point game.
“Coach Calipari, if you watch his teams, every single year they play physically, they get to the free throw line and they attack the rim and that’s what they did tonight,” Madsen said. “We were fortunate that we were in the game late, but they’re a physical, punishing team. And it’s a style of play that coach Cal and this program reinforces every single year. And so, you have to give them credit for that.
Madsen said Evansville’s win over UK last week didn’t change his team’s approach to the game.
“We knew coming in here Kentucky was going to be amped up and they were. Kentucky did a fantastic job of executing their game plan and really making big plays down the stretch,” Madsen said.
“We knew that after the Evansville game Kentucky was going to be tough no matter what and playing in Rupp Arena, so we didn’t really pay too much attention to the Evansville game ,” Washington said. “We just tried to stick to what we know and what we could do and we just tried to come out here and play as hard as we could.”