LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Tyler Herro stole the show.
The Kentucky freshman guard scored 34 points in Kentucky’s annual Blue-White scrimmage, which saw the Blue squad come away with a 104-96 victory Sunday night. Herro, who played for the White team exclusively, made 12 of 16 shots from the field and knocked down four 3-pointers on six attempts.
Herro said his main goal was to “have fun” in his first appearance at Rupp Arena.
“It felt good to be out there making shots,” Herro said. “I got up shots this morning and before the game. I’m just continuing to get my reps in and it felt good to get out there and make some shots.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari wasn’t surprised by Herro’s performance and added he’s still improving.
“He’s still trying to figure it out,” Calipari said. “He took some bad shots and I had to stop and say, ‘you’re not taking that.’ …. we’re challenging him to drive the ball, so there were times he’s driving the ball when he should just catch it and shoot it in one dribble or get it behind the handoff and shoot it. When he goes too far, he may turn it over. There’s stuff we got to work on, but he’s doing pretty good. “
Overall, nine players finished in double figures. Veteran PJ Washington led the blues with 23 points and scored most of those in the second half. Freshman EJ Montgomery had 21 points, followed by Quade Green had 17 points. Reid Travis, Immanuel Quickley, Jemarl Baker and Keldon Johnson played for both teams. Travis finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds combined,, while Johnson collected 20 points, Quickley scored 13 and Baker finished with 12.
Richards completed a double-double with 16 rebounds, with nine of those coming on the defensive end of the court. Calipari was pleased with the new and improved version of Richards who struggled during the second half of the season last year.
“He has a smile and he’s looking up,” Calipari said. “He doesn’t look like (he’s) shuffling his feet and looking down. He’s confident in who he is and what he does.”
Calipari tinkered with different lineup combinations including an all-freshmen squad consisting of Hagans, Johnson, Quickley, Herro, and Montgomery in the second half. The veterans suited up for the blue squad in the second half. Calipari indicated he wouldn’t be afraid to use Richards, Washington, and Richards in the same lineup.
The Blue team used a 16-2 run in the second half to put the game away. During that stretch, the veterans made 5 of 7 shots from the field, while the White team was 1-11 from the field.
Assistant coach Tony Barbee coached the White team, while associate coach Kenny Payne called the shots for the Blue squad. Calipari spent time between both benches, giving the Kentucky coach time to offer instructions to players on both squads.
Travis paced the White team with 16 points in the first half and missed just one field goal on nine attempts. Travis also grabbed seven rebounds. Herro followed Travis with 13 points and EJ Montgomery added 11.
Johnson led the Blues with 15 points in the first half, followed by Richards with 12 and Quickley with 11.
Montgomery, Hagans, Herro, Johnson, and Quickley combined and scored 22 of the first 30 points of the scrimmage. The five newcomers were 21-of-37 from the field in the first half. Herro, Hagans, Quickley, and Johnson combined for five of the six three-pointers made by the two teams.
Calipari said Montgomery was impressive.
“EJ told on himself,” Calipari said. “He didn’t practice that way. If you’re that good, you’re practicing that way now. The team laughed like crazy. Like, the combine and this game are the best two days he’s played since he’s been here.”
Baker, who sat out last season because of a knee injury, made his unofficial debut and connected on two 3-pointers. Baker, known as a 3-point threat, finished with 12 points, including nine as a member of the blue team.
Following the contest, Calipari received a text from former guard Isaiah Briscoe.
“I heard you say, ‘quit bouncing the ball, get to where you’re trying to get to,’” Calipari said. “He said it’s the best advice you ever gave me.”
Briscoe is in his first season with the Orlando Magic.
Gametracker: Transylvania at Kentucky (exhibition), Friday, 7 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.
BLUE (104) — Richards 16, Washington 23, Green 17, Johnson 15, Quickley 11, Calipari 2, Baker 9, Travis 11.
WHITE (94) —Travis 16, Montgomery 21, Hagans 15, Baker 3, Herro 34, Johnson 5, Quickley 2.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.