Kentucky-South Florida Preview
Kentucky wasn't totally dominant in its first game as the nation's No. 1 team. It might have some added incentive to aim for a more complete effort in the next one.
Facing their former assistant and current South Florida coach Orlando Antigua, the Wildcats meet the Bulls on Friday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
''O is my dude,'' Kentucky forward Alex Poythress said. ''... I can't wait to see him when we go down to Miami. He's been one of my guys ever since he recruited me and I can't wait to see him again.''
Though the Wildcats shot 51.6 percent, they trailed by one with 3:14 remaining in the first half before taking a seven-point advantage into the break. They closed the game on a 22-9 run to improve to 63-5 as a No. 1 under coach John Calipari.
"We're going to play teams like that all year long," said Poythress, who has two straight double-doubles after averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 boards in the first games.
"We just have to fight through it and grind it out. We have to keep on chipping away."
That might not be necessary in this first meeting with South Florida (1-4), which won nine games in 2014-15 and earned its first victory this season Tuesday, 63-61 over Albany. The Bulls are in their second season under Antigua, who assisted Calipari for one at Memphis and five with Kentucky.
"I hope he loses the next one," Calipari said. "But after that I hope he wins them all.
"He's somebody that's helped me in two different situations ... I think not only is he a great guy, a good person, a great heart, good family man, he's also a terrific basketball coach."
South Florida is 0-4 when facing No. 1 teams and has lost 17 straight against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 19 Louisville on Feb. 29, 2012.
"I obviously have a lot of great respect for that program, and for Cal and the staff and the players there. But that's all the personal stuff," said Antigua, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
"For us, it's another opportunity to go out and compete against a good team to see how we can continue to grow and mature."
The challenge is quite daunting for a South Florida squad that's shooting 39.5 percent and went 1 for 21 from 3-point range in the last two games. Six-foot-11 senior Jaleel Cousins, brother of Sacramento Kings big man and former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins, has scored 27 points in the last two games and grabbed 35 boards in the last three.
He'll face a major test against the 6-11 Labissiere, who is averaging 14.2 points on 61.7 percent shooting and has recorded 11 blocks.
''Just his length - he reminds me of Sam Perkins," Boston University coach Joe Jones said. "He has a very soft touch and is a very skilled player. He's hard to guard. I really like him as a player and think his upside is phenomenal at the next level."
Tyler Ulis is averaging 18.0 points in the last three games, but he's 4 of 19 from 3-point range this season and Kentucky is at 26.0 percent. The Wildcats could improve on that mark against a Bulls team which let Boston University hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc in a 78-66 home loss Saturday.
''This opportunity is once in a lifetime," USF forward Chris Perry said, "going up against some guys that are supposed to be the best.''