Kentucky basketball loses star player in blowout win over South Florida
Kentucky thoroughly outplayed South Florida in an 84-63 win on Friday night, but the Wildcats lost perhaps their most important player while moving to 6-0.
Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis left the game with a hyperextended right elbow in the first half and did not return. He had eight points, two rebounds and two assists before diving for a loose ball with a little more than five minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Despite his absence, the Wildcats still cruised to victory behind with strong performances by a collection of first-year players.
The turning point: After taking a 21-point lead into halftime, UK extended it to 30 after freshman guard Jamal Murray nailed three foul shots for a 62-32 edge with 14:24 remaining.
MVP: Murray. He showed off his elite scoring ability while Kentucky tore through South Florida in that aforementioned run. The Kitchener, Ontario, native finished with a game-high 21 points (8-for-16 from the field, 2-for-5 from 3-point range), three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers.
Memorable moment: After South Florida’s Angel Nunez halted the game with a minor second-half injury, he attempted to stay in the contest. Kentucky coach John Calipari promptly screamed “Get him out!” at the referees, leading to a bench warning against the Wildcats.
Cleaning up the glass: Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Murray, Marcu Lee and Skal Labissiere comprised the starting lineup for the fourth straight game … Freshman guard Charles Matthews had a breakthrough performance, tallying 11 points (4-for-5), two rebounds, a steal and an assist … South Florida post Jaleel Cousins, the younger brother of former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins, finished with 12 points, three rebuonds, a steal and a block … Friday’s game was part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational held at American Airlines Arena.
What’s next: No. 1 Kentucky vs. Illinois State, Monday at 7 pm ET (ESPN2)