LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky concluded its Big Blue Bahamas Tour in impressive fashion with a 93-60 victory over Team Toronto Sunday at Imperial Arena at Paradise Island.
The Wildcats placed five players in double figures, paced by graduate transfer Reid Travis with 19 points and 15 rebounds, including 12 on the defensive end of the floor. The performance by Travis was his best outing of the tour. Travis said he has been making the transition from “bully ball” to using his athleticism more.
“For me, it’s really a transition from the way I’ve played my whole career,” he said.
Tyler Herro followed Travis with 15 points, rounding out an impressive performance by the freshman guard in the tournament. Quade Green sank two early 3-points and scored 14 points, including 10 in the opening half. Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington finished with 13 points each, while Washington just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, all on the defensive end.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was impressed with his team’s performances during the tour and said the tour served a purpose.
“I love how well we are playing, especially because it’s August,” Calipari said on his Twitter account Sunday. “But, I’m not intoxicated by this. It’s a great starting point, but that’s all it is. My advice for fans is to enjoy this and stay in the moment.
“We did this trip to bring this group of players together and they have done just that,” Calipari said. Part of that is because they are so into basketball that they are comfortable in their own skin, which makes it easy to be about other guys.”
The trip also gave Calipari and his coaching staff an indication of “where we are at this point after 10 practices."
“We are probably a little further ahead than what I thought, but make no mistake (Big Blue Nation), we still have a ways to go,” he said.
Washington agreed with his coach and likes the make-up of the current squad.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “You can tell with these guys, they’re a lot more dedicated than we were last year. They want it a lot more. We’ve been in the gym after games here. Everybody wants it more and that’s what special teams do.”
Prior to Sunday’s dominating victory, Kentucky reached the century mark in a 100-64 blowout win over Mega Bemax, a performance that pleased Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff.
“I loved our effort,” Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said. “Our energy was tremendous. It was an elite performance by our guys. We talked about it. Our guys are young, but they know basketball and they know that that team is a good team, it's a proud team that plays hard, that's had tremendous success. They respect that and they came out today and gave an extreme effort.”
Justus said the Wildcats “love basketball” and it’s one reason the Wildcats won all four games in convincing fashion during the six-day excursion that included fun in the sun, but more importantly, basketball.
"This group really does love basketball,” he said. “They love to be in the gym by themselves, with a couple guys. They love to compete and this was another chance to go and do it against somebody else. This is something that we're finding out about them and we're obviously very excited about that.”
Kentucky freshman guard Immanuel Quickley also came away impressed with his new teammates.
“There's nothing like playing for Kentucky,” he said. “You get jitters when we go on a run and we get two dunks back to back like Keldon and PJ had (Saturday night). The whole crowd is screaming. There's nothing like playing for Kentucky.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21