No. 3 Kentucky rips Transylvania 74-28


No. 3 Kentucky rips Transylvania 74-28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky's freshmen worked a little harder for Monday night's exhibition victory over Transylvania, and Wildcats coach John Calipari was happy with that.

However, it took graduate student Julius Mays to get the third-ranked Wildcats started toward their 74-28 rout. His three 3-pointers spurred a 19-4 second-half run that involved his highly touted rookie teammates and a 27-18 halftime lead became a 24-point gap.

Forward Nerlens Noel scored 15 points, center Willie Cauley-Stein had 12, guard Archie Goodwin 10 with six rebounds and Alex Poythress five as Kentucky outscored Division III Transylvania 47-10 in the second half.

``I like how we started the half,'' Calipari said. ``I liked how active we were. I liked how we were deflecting balls. I liked our spacing.

``But we are what we are. We're a Nov. 5 team. ... It's going to be a process.''

For the first 20 minutes, Transylvania didn't look like the exhibition fodder it was expected to be.

Despite shooting 26 percent in the first half the Pioneers stayed close by forcing 10 turnovers and making the Wildcats play at a slower pace. And their decided height disadvantage didn't stop them from going to the basket against Kentucky's big men.

Transylvania's Brandon Rash got a rise from the Rupp Arena crowd by driving the lane and dunking on Cauley-Stein to bring the Pioneers within 17-16 with 8:32 remaining in the first half and get Calipari off the bench to call a timeout.

``They had great coaching and really tried to jam the inside and keep us off the inside,'' Noel said. ``Coach Cal brought us together and we figured it out and found ways to rebound and score.''

Kentucky led just 27-18 at halftime but opened the second half with that run led by Mays, who finished with 14 points before leaving with 6:06 remaining in the game with a hyperextended knee sustained in a collision with a Transylvania player. The Wright State transfer went to the locker room for observation before returning to spend the rest of the game on the bench.

``It will be OK,'' Mays said. ``The doctors checked it and it's nothing serious and I'll be ready to play on Friday.''

Sophomore Ryan Harrow added 12 points for Kentucky, which shot 71 percent in the second half and 59 percent for the game. The Wildcats forced 23 turnovers.

Kentucky opens the season on Friday against Maryland in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ethan Spurlin had 11 points for Transylvania, which shot 26 percent. Pioneers coach Brian Lane believes Kentucky might hold many opponents to low numbers after the season starts.

``We were able to handle the pressure early,'' he said. ``Defensively, they are going to get better and better and better. I saw some of the edits from the Blue-White game to the first exhibition, and you could just see a different intensity level. They are just going to get better as the season goes along.''

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Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

Alex Ovechkin's evolution as a player was on full display in Game 6

We all know that Alex Ovechkin is a world-class goal scorer. He is the best goal scorer of his generation and perhaps the best of all time. He tallied another two goals Monday in Game 6, but that’s not what really impressed head coach Barry Trotz.

While Ovechkin's career is full of highlight reel goals, it was the ugly plays that really caught Trotz's eye on Monday.

"[Ovechkin's] evolved in areas of his game," Trotz said after the game. "He’s not just at that dot. He’ll go to the front of the net, he’s not scared to do that. It’s just adding layers to his game."

Ovechkin's first goal of the game was not pretty. It won't make any Top 10 lists, it won't be shown throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was an ugly rebound goal...and it was beautiful.

Just four minutes after Nick Foligno tied the game, Ovechkin put the Caps back ahead with a rebound goal. He had parked himself in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and was in perfect position when Bobrovsky made a kick out save to backhand the rebound into the empty net.

Those are the type of plays we did not always see from the Great 8 and it didn't stop there.

As Washington tried to close out the game, Ovechkin went all out trying to help his team preserve the lead as he blocked a shot from Ryan Murray with less than three minutes to go.

"I’m probably as proud of him right at the end of the game blocking shots and doing that type of thing," Trotz said. "That’s full commitment. When that was necessary, that’s where you get your street cred with your teammates. You’ve got to block a shot when it’s necessary and get a puck out when it’s necessary. I’d probably give him more props on that than even scoring goals because that’s what you really expect of him."

Few expected a 32-year-old Ovechkin to rebound from a 33-goal season, but he did just that with 49 goals in 2017-18 to win his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy as the league-leader. The reason why was on full display on Monday. It is because he has evolved his game. Instead of relying just on the quick rushes, pretty one-timers and incredible dekes, he has committed more to getting to the contested areas and scoring those dirty goals.

That commitment on offense seemed to translate to the defense as well as he was there blocking shots with the rest of his teammates.

"Those are the necessary things, those necessary details that allow you to win," Trotz said. "If you don’t have them, then you’re not going to win."

MORE CAPITALS: Pens again: Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

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Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

The Caps are headed to the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins… again.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Yes, for the third time in three years, the Capitals will play the Penguins, hoping to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance out of the second round of the playoffs and to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 1998 season, when the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Capitals are riding momentum from their first-round series win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they fought back from an 0-2 series hole to win the series thanks to a 6-3 victory in Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.

That momentum coupled with home-ice advantage — should they choose to capitalize on that this time around — could create an ideal atmosphere for the Caps to take a 2-0 series lead before heading to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4.

A perennial problem, Sidney Crosby enters this series playing some of his best playoff hockey. In their 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pens’ captain scored six goals in six games, including a hat trick in the opening matchup.

But he’s not the only one creating havoc for goalies. Center Jake Guentzel is tied with Crosby at the top of the league in goals and points in the playoffs. The pair each had six goals and seven assists against the Flyers, as well as 17 shots on goal apiece.

Is it possible they’ll get stonewalled by Braden Holtby, who — despite not starting initially in the first two games for the Caps against the Blue Jackets — is rocking a 93.6 save percentage and ranks fourth in the league with a 1.66 goals against average among goaltenders who have played more than one postseason game.

If the Caps can find a spark in their offense with Holtby staying strong in goal, perhaps this could be the year they finally slide past the Pens.

However, history isn’t exactly on Washington’s side. In the second-round series from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Pens hold an 8-5 record over the Caps, eliminating them both years on their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Pittsburgh leads the Caps in the overall playoff game record, 38-24, and they’ve met for 10 series in the postseason, dating back to 1990-91. Four times the series was pushed to a Game 7, but the Caps never came out on top.

The one and only time the Caps have ever eliminated the Pens from the playoffs was in the 1993-94 season, when they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in the first round before losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But hey, this year could become the second time in franchise history the Caps take down the Pens.

The NHL has yet to announce when Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins series will take place, but with the Wizards playing Game 6 of their NBA Playoff series at home on Friday, the likliest start date is either Thursday, April 26 or Saturday, April 28.