LEXINGTON - Kentucky's freshman big men have shown UK fans a sign of things to come, but it was the smaller veterans who reminded everyone at Rupp Arena Tuesday night that this year's team is still about transition and good perimeter play.
The Wildcats defeated Team Nike 107-89 in front of 15,238 fans behind solid performances from seniors Gerald Fitch, Erik Daniels and Cliff Hawkins.
Fitch made his first five shots from the floor and finished with a game-high 26 points. Daniels was dominant on the offensive glass with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Hawkins was 8-of-10 from the field for 17 points. He added four assists and two steals.
Those three started for Kentucky in the exhibition game, along with junior Chuck Hayes and sophomore Kelenna Azubuike, who both played well, too. Hayes chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds and Azubuike tallied 14 points and seven boards.
"We came out, did some things well," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said of his team's effort.
But Smith indicated he still wants his squad to play better defense and he wants to see a better passing game, though that was clearly a positive in the second half, when the Wildcats earned 10 of their 17 assists.
"We didn't pass as much as I would have liked to in the first half," Smith said. "We could have had 25 or 30 assists."
Daniels, whose 10 rebounds included nine on the offensive glass, said the small lineup is one he likes, mainly because the Wildcats can run in transition.
For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.