UNC-Asheville vs Kentucky

Cousins helps fifth-ranked Wildcats rout Bulldogs

CBSSports.com wire reports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky freshman center DeMarcus Cousins' career is all of seven games old.

He's already a veteran when it comes to gamesmanship.

Minutes after putting up 24 points and 10 rebounds in the fifth-ranked Wildcats' easy 94-57 win over UNC-Asheville on Monday night, Cousins was asked about No. 10 North Carolina. The Tar Heels visit Rupp Arena on Saturday.

"I'm not impressed," Cousins said with a shrug of his shoulders.

It's a bit of freshman exuberance that makes coach John Calipari cringe. Considering the way the Wildcats (7-0) roared past the overmatched Bulldogs, Cousins could be forgiven for feeling a little giddy.

With star John Wall scoring 12 points and handing out a school freshman-record 14 assists, Kentucky matched its best start since 2004 by manhandling UNC Asheville from the opening tip.

Despite all his bluster, Cousins knows the real season begins now. Games against the Tar Heels, No. 14 Connecticut and Indiana loom in the next two weeks.

"This is the time to see how good we are," Cousins said.

The Wildcats looked pretty good during their annual cameo at Freedom Hall, shooting 52 percent from the field while outrebounding the Bulldogs 44-31 and outscoring them in the paint 50-16.

Still, Calipari cautioned his players not to get too full of themselves. The Tar Heels have championship rings. The Wildcats don't.

"We're not nearly as good as those guys coming up," he added. "The next 10 days we're going to find out where we are. Right now, I have no idea."

He may have caught a glimpse during a dazzling 29-6 run midway through the second half. Upset by a lack of effort defensively, Calipari put on a full-court trap hoping to up the intensity.

It worked. With the Wildcats hounding the Bulldogs, Kentucky was able to get in transition and pull away. During one sequence Wall threw five straight alley-oop passes to eagerly awaiting teammates.

"A point guard wants to keep everybody happy," Wall said. "I was just getting the ball into the big men. My mindset is to get a win. I'm a competitor."

Sean Smith led UNC Asheville (0-6) with 19 points, but the Bulldogs were hardly more than bystanders for most of the night against the bigger, deeper Wildcats.

"We are far from the team we are supposed to be so far this year," UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "Every season is a work in progress and we are improving."

So are the Wildcats.

Kentucky came in averaging 18.6 turnovers a game, a number Calipari attributed to his team's inexperience as it learns his "dribble-drive" offense. The Wildcats gave it away just eight times against the Bulldogs while handing out 28 assists on 36 field goals.

Not that Calipari was particularly impressed. In his mind, the lack of turnovers was almost a sign of laziness.

"We had eight turnovers and that's not enough. That's not being aggressive enough," he said.

His players, however, will take it. Particularly Cousins and forward Patrick Patterson (17 points), who enjoyed a ton of easy baskets thanks to the heady passing of Wall and backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe.

"John and Eric are playmakers," Cousins said. "They make it so much easier for our guys down low. They were coming out off the wings and that opened up things inside. We were wide open and they got the ball to us."

It's the kind of unselfish play Calipari has been preaching since the season began, though it came against the overmatched Bulldogs, who lost to No. 11 Tennessee by 75 points two weeks ago.

Kentucky didn't come close to matching the Volunteers point for point, but showed plenty of flashes of potential.

Following a series of early season scares -- including an overtime escape against Stanford in the Cancun Challenge finals last week -- Kentucky played with the kind of dominance Calipari said would come as soon as his young squad started figuring things out.

The Wildcats certainly looked as though they "got it" when Wall was on the floor. He looked for his teammates early and only tried to shoot when the opportunity was too good to pass up.

He made a believer out of Biedenbach, who has been watching the Raleigh, N.C., native for years.

"He is not an AAU-type street player that runs up and down and dunks," Biedenbach said. "He is a very solid basketball player that makes good, solid basketball plays. I can see why he is rated so high."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
DeMarcus Cousins finishes with 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds against UNC-Asheville.  (AP)
DeMarcus Cousins finishes with 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds against UNC-Asheville. (AP)
NC-Asheville (0-6)233457
Kentucky #5 (7-0) «454994
NCASHV:Sean Smith 19 Pts
NCASHV:D.J. Cunningham 7 Reb
NCASHV:J.P. Primm 5 Ast
KY:DeMarcus Cousins 24 Pts
KY:DeMarcus Cousins 10 Reb
KY:John Wall 14 Ast

Related Video


CBSSports Shop

Men's Nike White Villanova Wildcats 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt

Villanova Wildcats 2016 National Champs
Get the Locker Room Gear!
Shop Now

John Wall
Sean Smith
UNC-Asheville Bulldogs
S. Smith, G356-111-231119
D. Cunningham, C192-40-07054
C. Stephenson, G152-90-02134
J. Primm, G333-71-25517
J. Williams, F283-70-05037
Q. Jackson, F80-11-20021
M. Dickey, G323-101-10218
E. Stubbs, C193-41-25017
S. Hobbs, C50-00-00010
A. Alecxih, G20-00-00000
J. Lane, G20-10-00010
T. Turner, F20-00-00100
M. Davis, GDid Not Play
J. Harn, FDid Not Play
J. Seligson, GDid Not Play
Totals 22-545-927101957
Kentucky Wildcats
P. Patterson, F318-120-092017
D. Miller, G293-80-00119
E. Bledsoe, G263-70-02507
J. Wall, G266-90-0414212
D. Cousins, F178-148-10100324
D. Dodson, G206-100-122115
R. Harris, G160-23-43303
D. Orton, F161-33-45115
J. Harrellson, F61-20-03002
J. Hood, G60-00-00000
P. Stevenson, F50-10-10000
M. Krebs, G20-10-00000
D. Liggins, GDid Not Play
Totals 36-6914-203828794
Big South
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
High Point9-915-16235
Char. So.7-1112-19295

TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
S. Carolina12-626-1143
Ole Miss10-822-1477
Texas A&M8-1016-1593
Miss. State6-1216-16149
Other games
COLG 58 Final
Syracuse 92
Mt St Mry 62 Final