Keion Brooks Jr. and TyTy Washington Jr. each scored 18 points as Kentucky won its exhibition opener over Kentucky Wesleyan 95-72 on Friday night at Rupp Arena.
Five Wildcats scored in double figures in the game. In addition to Brooks and Washington, Davion Mintz scored 12, Oscar Tshiebwe had 11 and Sahvir Wheeler added 10. Tshiebwe led everyone with 10 rebounds and Wheeler had six assists.
Kentucky made 38 of its 71 shots from the floor (53.5 percent) including 11 of 29 (37.9 percent) from behind the arc. The Cats won the battle of the boards 39-31, had 20 assists and committed just nine turnovers.
The Cats made 8 of 13 at the free throw line in the game and had 21 fast-break points, compared to zero for Kentucky Wesleyan.
Kentucky raced out to an early lead behind strong play from Brooks. The junior hit a three on UK’s opening possession, then scored on a breakaway dunk to make it 5-0. Two minutes later, Brooks hit another three, giving the Cats a 10-3 early lead.
The Cats would lead 23-9 before KWC scored five straight, cutting the UK lead to 23-14 and forcing a Kentucky timeout.
Kentucky answered out of the timeout, with Tshiebwe converting a three-point play then a jumper, followed by baskets from Brooks and Dontaie Allen, making it a 9-0 run and a 32-14 lead, and forcing a KWC timeout.
Brooks would hit his third three-pointer of the half out of the timeout, giving UK its biggest lead of the game to that point, 25-14. But the Panthers responded by scoring the next eight, cutting UK’s advantage to 35-22 with 4:05 left in the half.
Kentucky would get a Kellan Grady basket with eight seconds left in the half to take a 48-30 lead into the break. Brooks led all scorers with 15 points in the first 20 minutes.
Early in the second half, it was Washington who provided the offense for the Cats. The freshman scored nine of UK’s first 14 points as the Cats stretched the lead to 62-36 with 13:44 to play.
Kentucky would stretch the lead to 32 points, 85-53, before settling for the 23-point victory.