Nov 27, 2015 7:57 PM
Murray scores 21, No. 1 Kentucky rolls past USF 84-63
The Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) As had been the case plenty of times before, Orlando Antigua had a courtside seat to watch Kentucky turn a close game into a runaway.
For once, he didn't enjoy the view.
The former Kentucky assistant feared that a big run was coming, and when it arrived his South Florida team had no answer. Jamal Murray scored 21 points, Skal LaBissiere added 17 and No. 1 Kentucky went on a 15-0 run to end the first half on the way to beating the Bulls 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.
"One of the things we tried to avoid was how quickly they could put points up, how quickly they transition from one end to the other, on made baskets, missed baskets, quick turnovers," said Antigua, in his second season coaching the Bulls. "You take a bad shot, they rebound it and they're down the court in 3 seconds, 4 seconds."
Take away that spurt at the end of the first half, and USF played Kentucky within six points over 34 minutes. That helped explain why Kentucky coach John Calipari wasn't exactly overjoyed even after a 21-point win.
"That's who we are as a defensive team," Calipari said about the 15-0 run. "What you saw in the second half is not. If you're out to prove who you are, you're doing that every night."
USF shot 60 percent in the second half, playing the Wildcats to a 42-42 tie in the final 20 minutes.
Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.
Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.
"We definitely got a lot to learn from this," Perry said.
Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.
"He's in a sling," Calipari said. "Let's hope."
It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Antigua was a longtime assistant under Calipari. Antigua's staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.
USF was within 27-21 late in the half when the big Kentucky run started, the Wildcats scoring on seven of nine possessions to pull away. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls' six.
"We're still trying to figure out our roles," Murray said, "and how to play as a team."
Kentucky: Murray's previous season-best was 19. ... The Wildcats are 6-0 for the third time in the last five seasons. It's the first time Kentucky has won its first six games in consecutive seasons since 1982-83 and 1983-84. .. Going back to last season, Kentucky's last five games away from Lexington have been in either an NBA (Cleveland, Chicago and Miami) or NFL (Indianapolis) facility.
South Florida: This was USF's first game away from its Tampa home this season. ... Cousins, the brother of former Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins now of the Sacramento Kings was limited to 3 first-half minutes after picking up two fouls in two seconds. ... The Bulls are 0-5 against teams ranked No. 1.
LOTS OF SEC
Bulls forward Angel Nunez has now faced three SEC teams while playing for three schools. Nunez was with Louisville when it beat Vanderbilt in 2011, with Gonzaga when it topped Georgia in 2014, and now USF against Kentucky. Nunez sat out the 2012-13 season after leaving Louisville. He was immediately eligible to play this season for USF because he was a graduate transfer.
The game was particularly meaningful to Miami Heat President Pat Riley. Not only did it take place in the arena that his team calls home, but it was a chance to see his alma mater up close. Riley played for Kentucky from 1964 to 1967, and was in the crowd on Friday.
Kentucky: Hosts Illinois State on Monday.
South Florida: Hosts Savannah State on Sunday.