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Top-ranked Kentucky overwhelms Robert Morris

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Top-ranked Kentucky started all freshmen for the first time and rolled over Robert Morris 87-49 in a rematch of last year's first-round NIT game. Karvel Anderson led the Colonials with 16.

Robert Morris touted three returning starters from its last matchup with Kentucky on the basketball court, but it was the Wildcats who dominated Sunday night, finding success in every aspect of the game to capture a 87-49 victory in a rematch of last year’s NIT showdown.

Starting the game with a lineup made up of only freshmen, Kentucky solidified its No. 1 ranking with an effective performance in the paint, both offensively and defensively. Although sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein quickly entered the game as a substitute, the Wildcats’ squad of first-year players was instrumental in Kentucky jumping out to a 17-2 lead and never letting up against a 2-2 Robert Morris team.

The Colonials had trouble containing Kentucky’s offensive attack, which was headlined by Aaron Harrison, who stole the title of leading scorer from Julius Randle with 28 points, 19 of which came in an explosive first half. Harrison also led his team in steals and assists. Randle had himself a productive outing, though, standing out defensively with 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points. Harrison’s twin, Andrew, had eight points of his own, while Cauley-Stein had a career high 13 rebounds off the bench.

Karvel Anderson, among the returning starters for Robert Morris, led his team with 16 points, but his efforts weren’t enough to keep the Colonials in contention Sunday night. Overall, the team had a shooting percentage of just 23 percent, converting on 16 of 69 shots. Momentum may have had something to do with the Colonials’ struggles, because the squad made just one of its first ten shots, having trouble replicating its performance in an NIT upset win last year.

Eight free throws by Harrison in the first half helped Kentucky jump out to a 44-20 lead at halftime, and despite some inconsistency from the rest of the Wildcats (9-22 shooting), Robert Morris was unable to convert its own opportunities, remaining well behind its opponent throughout the matchup.

It wasn’t as if Robert Morris was only outmatched in terms of shooting, either, as Kentucky finished the contest with 23 more rebounds. In the paint, the Wildcats were far more effective with a 36-16 scoring advantage, and it was clear throughout Sunday’s rematch that Kentucky, perhaps motivated because of the prospect of exacting revenge on Robert Morris, had an advantage in every aspect of the matchup, and mostly because of mere execution.

Robert Morris, which opened the season 2-0 but has since lost two consecutive games on the road, will have a chance to rebound on Thursday when it returns home for a matchup with the Texas-Arlington Mavericks (2-2).

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