Murray scores 21, No. 1 Kentucky rolls past USF 84-63
MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.
Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.
Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.
Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.
The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach's face was clear.
It didn't last long.
The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.
It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua's staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.
So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls' six.
Kentucky: Murray's previous season-best was 19. ... The Wildcats are 6-0 for the third time in the last five seasons. It's the first time Kentucky has won its first six games in consecutive seasons since 1982-83 and 1983-84. .. Going back to last season, Kentucky's last five games away from Lexington have been in either an NBA (Cleveland, Chicago and Miami) or NFL (Indianapolis) facility.
South Florida: This was USF's first game away from its Tampa home this season. ... Cousins, the brother of former Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins - now of the Sacramento Kings - was limited to 3 first-half minutes after picking up two fouls in two seconds. ... The Bulls are now 0-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 1.
LOTS OF SEC
Bulls F Angel Nunez has now faced three SEC teams while playing for three different schools. Nunez was with Louisville when it beat Vanderbilt in 2011, with Gonzaga when it topped Georgia in 2014, and now USF against Kentucky. Nunez sat out the 2012-13 season after leaving Louisville. He was immediately eligible to play this season for USF because he was a graduate transfer.
The game was particularly meaningful to Miami Heat President Pat Riley. Not only did it take place in the arena that his team calls home, but it was a chance to see his alma mater up close. Riley played for Kentucky from 1964 to 1967, and was in the crowd on Friday.
Kentucky: Hosts Illinois State on Monday.
South Florida: Hosts Savannah State on Sunday.