Kentucky freshmen find groove
As top-ranked Kentucky develops in small steps, the on-court relationship between Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox is clearly off and running.
Monk scored 23 points and Fox had 16 points and 11 assists to propel the Wildcats to a 101-70 rout of Cleveland State on Wednesday in Lexington, Ky.
With leading scorer Isaiah Briscoe sidelined by a back injury, the freshman duo picked up the slack and did it quickly, helping Kentucky (5-0) roll to a 16-2 lead that was never threatened in its first game this season as the nation’s No. 1 team. They combined for 31 firsthalf points with 19 from Monk, whose 4-for-4 start from long range and 8-of-12 shooting overall helped him match his career scoring best set last week against Michigan State.
“We played well,” Fox said. “Without Isaiah today, people stepped up and we ended up getting the win.”
The freshmen combined for 15 assists — including 10 in the first half — and seven rebounds with two steals apiece, looking to each other when Kentucky was in transition.
Which was often.
“We have great chemistry,” Monk said. “Although we never played that much together, we know where we are on the court. That’s another thing that makes this team so close.”
Their chemistry was evident in the first half when Monk stole the ball near midcourt and drove toward the basket before bouncing the ball off the glass perfectly back to the trailing Fox, whose thunderous dunk brought a roar from the crowd of 22,441 at Rupp Arena. UConn loses forward: Connecticut sophomore forward Terry Larrier is out for the rest of the season after tearing his left ACL at the Maui Invitational.
The Huskies said Larrier will consult with doctors about a time frame for surgery and that recovery is about eight months.
Larrier was injured midway through the first half against Oklahoma State on Monday night when he was stripped of the ball on a drive. He was unable to put any weight on his leg and stopped by the Huskies’ huddle to yell encouragement before being helped to the locker room.