KSR's quick takeaways from Kentucky's win over North Florida
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KSR's quick takeaways from Kentucky's win over North Florida

Jack Pilgrim2 months

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Article written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
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Photo by Dr. Michael Huang | Kentucky Sports Radio

Five home games down, five blowout victories to show for it. This time, it was an 86-52 win for Kentucky over North Florida, pushing the team’s record to 5-1 on the year.

How did Kentucky come out on top? And what does it mean for the Wildcats as they look ahead to Central Michigan?

Jacob Toppin and Lance Ware return for the Wildcats…

After missing the last two weeks due to injury, both Jacob Toppin and Lance Ware returned to the rotation for Kentucky on Friday.

Toppin played in the team’s season-opener vs. Duke, but missed the last four games with a shoulder injury. Ware played nine minutes vs. Duke and then tried to play in the team’s home-opener vs. Robert Morris, but was limited to just one minute and has since missed three straight games with an ankle issue.

Toppin finished with three points on 1-3 shooting to go with two rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal and three turnovers in 10 minutes, while Ware added four points on 2-3 shooting to go with one rebound and one turnover in seven minutes.

Not an overly productive night for either, but still huge to get both players back into the rotation.

… while Keion Brooks Jr. and Davion Mintz sit due to illness

Kentucky added two players back to the rotation, but lost another, as Keion Brooks Jr. was a late scratch due to illness. He joined Davion Mintz, who missed his second consecutive game with an illness.

Brooks warmed up with the team during shootaround, but left the floor with roughly 45 minutes before tip-off and never returned. Mintz was also a late scratch against Albany on Monday, with the school announcing he was unavailable just an hour before tip.

During his weekly call-in radio show, John Calipari wasn’t optimistic Mintz would suit up against North Florida on Friday.

“Not sure about that,” Calipari said. “I’m not sure.”

Kentucky somehow managed to get healthier and sicker the same night.

Daimion Collins steps up

With Brooks out due to illness, Daimion Collins was forced to step into the starting lineup, playing the four position alongside Oscar Tshiebwe. It was an opportunity he took advantage of, finishing with 12 points on 6-10 shooting to go with six rebounds and a block in 25 minutes.

He was a little trigger-happy to open the game, jacking up two quick threes and committing a charge on a drive to the basket, but really settled into his role the rest of the way. His biggest highlight came on an alley-oop slam, jumping over Tshiebwe to finish the lob from Dontaie Allen.

There’s still clearly a lot of work to do, but the growth is clear. Collins is inching closer toward his sky-high ceiling, slowly but surely.

Another double-double for Oscar Tshiebwe

Another day, another double-double for Kentucky’s anchor in the middle. Coming in with four double-doubles on the year, Oscar Tshiebwe added yet another to the tally with a 12-point, 16-rebound night.

Overall, the 6-foot-9 center finished with 12 points on 5-9 shooting and 2-3 from the line to go with 16 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, two steals and three turnovers in 32 minutes. It was yet another outing of Tshiebwe getting anything he wanted inside while working to expand his range with some mid-range jumpers.

It’s a nightly tradition at this point.

Dontaie Allen makes the most of his opportunity

With Davion Mintz out due to illness, Dontaie Allen got his first opportunity to shine on Monday against Albany. He got his shot attempts, but couldn’t get any to fall, going 0-5 from three in 13 minutes.

After the game, John Calipari told reporters that he wanted the 6-foot-6 guard to keep letting shots fly and find his shooting groove.

Allen got yet another chance with Mintz out, and this time, he made the most of his minutes. One of the first players off the bench for the Wildcats, the Falmouth, KY native tied for a team-high 14 points on 5-12 shooting and 2-9 from three to go with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in 19 minutes.

It took him a minute to get hot, but once he found his footing, he was knocking down shots at all three levels. Kentucky will need more of that as the season continues.

Not-so-sweet homecoming for Carter Hendricksen

Mt. Sterling, KY native and former Lexington Christian Academy standout Carter Hendricksen entered the day as North Florida’s leading scorer, averaging 13.8 points per game on 40.7% shooting, 47.5% from three and 84.2% from the line.

In his return to Lexington, the Preseason All-ASUN selection finished the day with just eight points on 3-14 shooting and 2-10 from three to go with five rebounds, one assist and four turnovers in the loss.

During his time at LCA, the 6-foot-7 wing led the Eagles to its first two 43rd District titles and the 2018 All “A” Classic state championship.

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