No. 8 Kentucky hosts Fort Wayne amid growing pains

LEXNGTON, Ky. -- Eighth-ranked Kentucky wraps up a whirlwind of games before Thanksgiving when the Wildcats welcome Fort Wayne to Rupp Arena on Wednesday.

It will be the third game in six days for the Wildcats.

Kentucky (4-1) will be favored against the Summit League team, just as it was Friday against East Tennessee State and Monday against Troy -- both victories. But that doesn't mean coach John Calipari is happy about the frequency of games for his freshman-dominated team.

"The problem is that we can't have a real practice," Calipari said. "We've got to get by this spell of games and get some time on the floor where we can work on stuff because right now we're trying to do it on the fly. It's hard."

On Monday, Kentucky blew out to a 21-point lead but wilted down the stretch and won by only 70-62. On Friday, the Wildcats fell behind East Tennessee by 10 early before rallying to win 78-61.

"We're just not ready to play 40 minutes because they will revert," Calipari said. "They let go. They go back to their old ways. We just have breakdown after breakdown as soon as we get a little fatigued, and that's the fight.

"Whether it's going to take a loss to a team that we should beat, I don't know. But at some point, we're going to have to play 40 minutes of basketball."

Kentucky's freshmen are all over the board during the early part of this season.

P.J. Washington, despite being a forward, not a point guard, leads the team with 20 turnovers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a point guard, has 18 assists versus 17 turnovers. Forward Kevin Knox has 13 turnovers. The only players to the good aren't that great as point guard Quade Green has 13 assists and seven turnovers and guard Hamidou Diallo with 11 and eight.

As a team, Kentucky is upside down in its assist-to-turnover ratio, 76 to 80.

"There's turnovers in there for no reason," Calipari said. "Lack of execution. This is a freshman team. It's the kind of stuff they do. And I told them I'm going to have to teach them how to win and they have to listen, when we're in situations, every possession still matters. They don't see that yet. But they will."

Knox is Kentucky's leading scorer and rebounder at 15.4 points per game to go with 7.2 boards. Diallo checks in at 12.6 points and Green at 11.8.

Kentucky is shooting 45.6 percent from the field, including 37.1 from 3-point range. They are only 62.7 percent from the foul line.

The Mastodons (3-1) lost their season opener 85-71 at Oakland, but have since won three straight -- 114-59 over Defiance, 85-71 over Delware State and 67-51 over Illinois-Chicago.

Senior guard John Konchar, the only returning starter from last year's 20-win team, leads Fort Wayne by averaging 11.3 points and 11.5 rebounds despite being only 6 feet 5. Senior guard Bryson Scott is the leading scorer at 22.0 points per game. Next comes junior guard Kason Harrell at 12.8.

Fort Wayne shoots 43.4 percent, including 38.5 from 3-point range. The Mastodons average 41.3 rebounds and 17.5 assists.

Fort Wayne rocked the college basketball world at this stage one year ago Wednesday with a stunning upset of No. 3 Indiana.

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