University of Kentucky
CHICAGO -- Duke and Kentucky seemed destined to meet last April in the NCAA Championship game. But while the Blue Devils went the distance and cut down the nets for the fifth time in school history, Kentucky was taken out by Wisconsin in the national semifinals.
In the first real test of the 2015-16 season, the Wildcats proved to be up to the challenge.
No. 2 Kentucky topped No. 5 Duke 74-63 in the first game of the State Farm Champions Classic Tuesday night at the United Center. Kentucky's guards were the difference, as Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe combined for 46 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in front of more than 60 NBA personnel.
The Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List was released on Tuesday afternoon with Kentucky (Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis) and Indiana (James Blackmon, Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams) each getting three players on.
The Wooden Award is presented annually to the nation's top player. The initial list of 50, which is below, will be cut to 25 in mid-January and 15 in late-February. The winner will be announced at the Final Four. Recent recipients include Creighton's Doug McDermott and Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky.
- Grayson Allen (Duke)
- Zach Auguste (Notre Dame)
- Ron Baker (Wichita State)
- DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph's)
- James Blackmon (Indiana)
- Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
- Jaylen Brown (California)
- Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
- Kyle Collinsworth (BYU)
- Kellen Dunham (Butler)
- Kris Dunn (Providence)
- Perry Ellis (Kansas)
- Yogi Ferrell (Indiana)
- Rico Gathers (Baylor)
- Anthony Gill (Virginia)
- Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut)
- A.J. Hammons (Purdue)
- Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)
- Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
- Danuel House (Texas A&M)
- Brandon Ingram (Duke)
- Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame)
- Brice Johnson (North Carolina)
- Damian Jones (Vanderbilt)
- Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin)
- Skal Labissiere (Kentucky)
- Jake Layman (Maryland)
- Caris LeVert (Michigan)
- Nic Moore (SMU)
- Monte Morris (Iowa State)
- Jamal Murray (Kentucky)
- Malik Newman (Mississippi State)
- Georges Niang (Iowa State)
- Marcus Paige (North Carolina)
- Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
- Jakob Poeltl (Utah)
- Taurean Prince (Baylor)
- Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State)
- Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)
- Ben Simmons (LSU)
- D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown)
- Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona)
- Isaiah Taylor (Texas)
- Melo Trimble (Maryland)
- Tyler Ulis (Kentucky)
- Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
- Fred VanVleet (Wichita State)
- Tyrone Wallace (California)
- Troy Williams (Indiana)
- Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga)
Tags: University of Kentucky, Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, Indiana University, Adam Zagoria, Josh Newman
The University of Kentucky will face a stern early-season test from Duke on Tuesday evening at the Champions Classic, so Wildcats head coach John Calipari believes it is time for senior forward Alex Poythress to step his game up.
Three years ago as a highly-touted freshman, Poythress showed what he was capable of against these same Blue Devils, scoring 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds in a 75-68 Kentucky loss at the Georgia Dome.
A combination of deciding not to leave for the NBA twice, plus suffering a season-ending ACL injury last season have brought Poythress to this point.
Will Brown knew all about Jamal Murray even before Albany played Kentucky Friday night in the season-opener for both teams.
"I'll say it now before everybody jumps on the bandwagon, I think Jamal Murray might be the best player in the country," the Albany coach told me before Kentucky beat his team, 78-65, at Rupp Arena. "He reminds me of a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot because he can post you up, he's got size, he can run a team and he can really shoot that thing."
The projected No. 6 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Murray then went out and put up 19 points, eight assists and three steals in his collegiate debut.
Freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe missed Kentucky's season-opening win against Albany on Friday with a knee injury and his status for Saturday's game against NJIT is questionable.
"I don't know if he'll play [Saturday], but it gives you another - a tough kid that's going to defend, come up with balls, make lay ups, get to the basket," Kentucky coach John Calipari said after the team's 78-65 win over Albany.
Briscoe, who lead Roselle Catholic to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title in March, bumped knees with teammate Dominique Hawkins in practice during the week.