Kentucky wins exhibition opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky's highly touted freshman class sent Big Blue Nation home from Thursday night's exhibition opener against Northwood with something to feel good about.
Noel added 11 rebounds and four blocks for the third-ranked Wildcats, who got 15 points from sophomore guard Ryan Harrow and 12 from sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer. Willie Cauley-Stein, another freshman, had eight points.
"We were better than I thought we'd be," Wildcats coach John Calipari said. "We're way away from where we need to be."
For the Wildcats' freshmen -- following in the footsteps of a team that won last season's NCAA championship with rookies Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist -- the debut was even better than expected.
Kentucky shot 61 percent and outrebounded Northwood 42-30, holding the Seahawks to 36 percent shooting. The Wildcats committed 17 turnovers, but Calipari expected that from his rookies, who he used in 12 combinations.
"It's early, and we're going to make mistakes," Noel said. "If we keep working hard in the gym, we'll cut down those mistakes and really get to balling."
He rolled out Noel, Wiltjer, Goodwin, Poythress and Harrow to start, subbing 7-footer Cauley-Stein for Noel about five minutes in and then trying his two big men together.
At times it was just Cauley-Stein or Noel in the middle, surrounded with a combination featuring Harrow and/or Mays. But the lineup was rarely without Poythress and Goodwin, who played 18 and 19 minutes, respectively, in the first half.
"I didn't know I was going to play that much," said Goodwin, who shot 7 of 12 in 30 minutes at both guard spots. "It was just something that happened. I just adjusted as best as I could."
Forward Masse Doumbe scored 25 points for Northwood, which plays in the NAIA. It was the first time back in Rupp Arena for Seahawks coach Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova to an upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship here.
He was introduced with a video tribute of the final minutes of the Wildcats' victory.
"That was extremely well done," Massimino said. "I really appreciate that."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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