Upset-minded Buccaneers fall to Kentucky

11/18/2017 02:26 AM

By Tim Meredith

East Tennessee State University coach Steve Forbes thought he might be able to catch University of Kentucky players in a lull after their game in the spotlight Tuesday against Kansas in the Champions Classic. And for a while, it looked like he might be right.
In the end, it was not to be, and the upset-minded Buccaneers fell to Kentucky 78-61.

ETSU jumped out to an 18-8 lead before the under-12-minute timeout in the first half and it looked like the young Wildcats were in trouble on their home floor. After that timeout, though, Kentucky turned things around, scoring seven unanswered points as part of an 18-7 Wildcat run.

After seeming to score with ease and raining four 3-point shots over the Kentucky defense, the Buccaneers hit just three of their next 12 shots, allowing UK to take its first lead of the game at 26-25 with 5:30 left in the first half.

All was not rosy for the Big Blue, as they missed all three free throws they in the first half, which ended with UK up 36-30.
Freshman point guard Quade Green led the Cats with 12 points in the first 20 minutes.

The free throw woes would continue into the second half. UK players missed their next five foul shots, bringing the cold streak to 0-for-8, before forward Kevin Knox hit his team’s first free throw of the night with 7:54 remaining in the game. That brought a loud cheer from the Rupp Arena crowd of 20,168.

For the game, Kentucky made just 3 of 15 shots from the charity stripe.

Long range shooting was a different story, with the Wildcats draining 9 of 16 from beyond the arc for the game, including 5-for-7 in the second half.

Green and Know combined to hit 7 of 12 three pointers for the game. They were also top scorers for the night with Green pouring in 21 points and Knox tallying 17. He added 10 rebounds for a double-double. PJ Washington and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also scored in double figures, with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

After the game, Forbes said his teams have had success in the past when opponents were coming off a big game, as was Kentucky, but he said you had to give the young UK players credit because they didn’t let it happen to them.

In his postgame remarks, Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari bemoaned the fact that his team is playing so many games so close together in the early part of the season and that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of time to learn and grow in practices. That won’t change anytime soon, with the Cats back in action Monday, hosting Troy at Rupp Arena. After that, they have home games Wednesday (Fort Wayne) and a week from Sunday (University of Illinois-Chicago) wrapped around Thanksgiving.

Kentucky is now 3-1 on the season.

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