Wiltier's 24 points helps to lift Cats over Loyola (Md.) Print

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

By George Browning

Managing Editor

Green Banner Publications

The University of Kentucky basketball team had it's hands full with visiting Loyola (Md.) Thursday afternoon, but got an offensive spark from Kyle Wiltier who tossed in 24 points, helping to lift his team to an 87-63 win.

Kentucky Head Coach John Calapari said Wiltier's offense is a key, but admits his team loses a little on the defensive end when the freshman is in the game.

“Well, one, we've got to help (Wiltier) defensively,” Calapari said. “I mean, we've got to do some schemes with him because there are certain match-ups that he's just not ready to go with. But we need that shooting and that scoring on the floor. So I've got to come up with some schemes to help him.

“I was really happy because he didn't shoot the ball particularly well last game, and in the last huddle I said, we're going to see what this kid is made of. He hasn't been close to making a shot. We're going to give him another one I want to see. And he swished it. I think the kid has a toughness at heart, but we're just going to have to help him. I've got to get him to take more charges, not going to block shots, charge, block out more, and then when he's in the post we've got to do some things.”

The Cats started to pull away mid-way through the second half on their way to the 24-point win.

A layup by Loyola's Justin Drummond, trimmed the UK advantage to five, 51-46, but that's as close as the Greyhounds would get.

Wiltier, who got his 24 points off 7 of 11 shooting, hit a three and a dunk by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stretched the Kentucky advantage to 10, 56-46.

Wiltier continued to score, adding four points, all from the free throw line to stretch the lead to 13, 63-50.

Anthony Davis flushed a dunk and hit two free throws, giving the Cats their largest lead 67-50.

A Marquis Teague layup and a jumper by Wiltier grew the lead to 71-50 and the Kentucky never looked back.

“I thought I played well,” Wiltier said. “I wanted to go in there and play good minutes and keep grinding it out, and luckily tonight, a lot of the shots fell for me tonight.”

The loss dropped Loyola to 8-3 on the season. Calapari said the game was a good test for his team because he thinks they beat a likely NCAA tournament team.

“. . . I knew it would be a hard game,” he said. “They were 8-2. I watched the tapes. I knew it would be a hard game. They're athletic and tough and older than us, and they weren't afraid. They came right after us.

“I'm going to say they'll probably win their league. I mean, that's what I think they'll do. You know, from the 3-point line I was scared to death because I knew they had some guys that could launch 3s, but I thought we did a fairly good job.”

Early in the game UK got out to a 9-2 lead before allowing Loyola to climb back in the contest.

The Greyhounds outscored the Cats 8-2 and trimmed the deficit to one, 11-10, off a basket by Dylan Comier with 15:49 remaining in the first half.

Doron Lamb ended the run by converting an and-one opportunity, giving UK a cushion.

Anthony Davis contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds and Kidd-Gilchrist had 15 points.

The only other Kentucky player in double figures was Darius Miller, who scored 13.

UK is 11-1 Heading into an extended break. The Wildcats won't return to the floor until Dec. 28 when they host Lemarr at 8:30 p.m. in Rupp Arena.

Calapari said he likes where this team is heading into their final three games before SEC play begins.

“To this point I'm happy, even though I'm dragging some of these guys more than I want to,” he said. “At the end of the day, I like my team. I've got a good team. And when we click and we all come together and we're all playing aggressive and we're all bouncing and talking and we're all making easy plays, this stuff gets scary. We're not close to that right now. But this thing could get scary.”