Friday, November 13, 2015

University of Albany Men's Basketball Challenge #/1 Kentucky In 78-65 Season-Opening Defeat

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Opening the season on the road at Rupp Arena, the University at Albany men’s basketball team gave the No. 2/1 University of Kentucky Wildcats a run, but ultimately fell 78-65 Friday night with a crowd of 22,080 in attendance. “You have to give a lot of credit to Kentucky. They’re obviously very talented and well coached with terrific guards,” said head coach Will Brown. “We knew coming in here that this was going to be a tremendous challenge for us, but it was a challenge that we were excited about.” While UAlbany never trailed by more than 21 points and got as close as 12 in the final minutes, the Great Danes struggled to sink shots. Shooting 43.1 percent from the field (25-58), UAlbany went 1-for-14 (7.1 percent) behind the arc and 14-22 (63.6 percent) from the free throw line. “I wasn’t expecting us to shoot 1-for-14 from the 3-point line and miss as many free throws as we did in the first half,” said Brown. “The one thing you can’t do when preparing for Kentucky, or at least we can’t, is simulate their length and their athleticism. You can’t do it.” Redshirt senior Peter Hooley led the Great Danes with 18 points going 7-for-16 from the field, followed by senior Evan Singletary’s 17-point effort (6-for-15) and sophomore Greig Stire’s nine points and team-high four rebounds. With a career-high four steals, junior Mike Rowley led the UAlbany squad that turned Kentucky over 20 times in the contest. “Albany, if they make any shots, like any, they beat us,” said Kentucky head coach John Calipari. “They didn't make any shots. Now, and that's a team that's a good shooting team. They're well coached. They had less turnovers than us and we pressed the whole game. And they played zone and backed away and played pack line.” Kentucky shot 56 percent (28-for-50) from the field and won the battle of the boards 34-28 in the win. After losing six players to the NBA from last season’s Final Four team, freshman Jamal Murray scored a game-high 19 points in his collegiate debut, as four Wildcats reached double figures in scoring. Junior Derek Willis followed with 14 points, scored all in the first half, while junior Marcus Lee and sophomore Tyler Ulis each finished with 12. In the first half, the Wildcats scored the season’s first points, taking a 4-0 lead before Stire got the Danes on the board with a jumper. UAlbany kept the margin within six points through the first nine minutes of the game and within single digits until Willis hit a jumper and followed it up with a three to give Kentucky a 25-14 advantage at the eight-minute media timeout. Willis gave the ‘Cats its largest lead of the half, 14 points, on another three to make it 30-16 with 5:59 to go in the opening stanza. However, the gritty Great Danes held Kentucky at bay, cutting the margin to nine, 30-21. Hooley recorded a steal in transition and Richard Peters finished the play with a lefty layup before Hooley was fouled on a runner which fell through the net, and the Adelaide, Australia native completed the three-point play at the line at the 4:56 mark. To the close the first half, Kentucky went up by 13 on Mychal Mulder’s jumper, but junior Jamir Andrews, making his debut for the Danes, hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to send UAlbany into the break trailing 38-27. To start the second half, Stire slammed down a dunk and Singletary knocked down a jumper from the top of the key to cut it to seven, 38-31. However, that would be as close as the Great Danes would get the rest of the way. Kentucky went on a 9-0 run to take a 45-31 lead on Murray’s dunk with 15:34 to go. Picking up the offensive pace, the Wildcats took their largest lead of the game when Murray hit a free throw as part of an and-one play, giving the hosts a 64-43 advantage with 8:33 remaining. UAlbany did not roll over, however, picking up the pressure in the backcourt. Hooley and Singletary tripped up Murray in transition, leading to Hooley’s layup that cut the deficit to 15, 68-53, with just under six minutes to play. Off the bench, freshman Joe Cremo layed one off the glass and Singletary split the UK defenders with a highlight reel behind-the-back layup, making the score 71-59 with four minutes to go. Murray’s emphatic dunk on the break erupted the Rupp Arena crowd, but Hooley answered right back with a pair of free throws to keep the game within 12, 73-61, with 2:26 left. But, the Wildcats held off the tenacious Danes, putting the game away with Ulis’ three-pointer at the one-minute mark. UAlbany ended the contest wit a 4-0 run, as Hooley hit a pair of foul shots and Cremo scored his sixth point of the game with a layup to close the clash. Up next, UAlbany (0-1) travels to take on Boston University on Monday at 7 p.m.

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