BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Rapid reaction from Kentucky’s 79-65 win over Providence:
What it means: Kentucky improved to 7-1 on the season and won the first game of what is a challenging month of games. The Cats played probably their best defense of the season, holding Providence to 31.1 shooting for the game, including 28.6 percent in the second half.
Willie Cauley-Stein the shot-blocker: Ironically on the same night that former UK shot-block specialist Anthony Davis broke his hand, UK sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein blocked a career-high nine shots. That tied Cauley-Stein with Andre Riddick and Sam Bowie behind Nerlens Noel’s 10 blocked shots in a game last year.
Defense on Bryce Cotton: John Calipari gave big-time kudos to Aaron Harrison and Dominique Hawkins for the defensive work they did on Providence guard Bryce Cotton, who led the Big East in scoring last season. Cotton went almost 13 minutes without a point in the second half. He finished with 23 on the night, but made just seven of 21 shots.
Efficient offense: Kentucky shot 64.3 percent from the floor, its highest field goal percentage since shooting 67.7 percent against LIU-Brooklyn last season at Rupp. The Cats averaged 1.298 points per possession, compared to 1.085 for Providence. James Young made five of seven shots. Cauley-Stein made seven of eight shots. Aaron Harrison made seven of nine shots.
What’s next: On Friday, Kentucky travels to Arlington, Texas to play Baylor in AT&T Stadium. The Bears beat Hardin-Simmons 104-59 tonight to run their record to 7-1. Their lone loss was to Syracuse 74-67.