LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was a tale of two halves for the Lipscomb men's basketball team in a 88-50 loss to No. 22 Kentucky in a nonconference matinee contest at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Playing in front of 21,323, the Bisons came out and battled the Wildcats hard in the opening 20 minutes but offensive struggles in the second half dashed any hopes of a comeback attempt for the Purple and Gold.
Trailing 43-29 at the break, the Bisons came out of the locker room and made 4-of-5 shots from the field and cut the deficit to 45-35 on a jump shot from junior guard Khion Sankey. That make forced UK skipper John Calipari to call timeout and from that point on, the Wildcats took over.
The Wildcat defense upped the pressure and Lipscomb's only other bucket of the second half came with 9:50 to play when junior forward Malcolm Smith scored on a layup.
“The guys played well the first 24 minutes,” said Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson. “I didn't like how we finished the (first) half. It was an 8-point game and it goes to a 14-point game right at the end of the half and we didn't manage the clock very well.
“I thought we came out in the second half and did some nice things and got (the lead) down to 10 (points) but from that point on we self-destructed. The last 16 minutes we didn't play well at all.”
Junior guard Martin Smith led the Bisons for the second-straight game with an 18-point afternoon. Smith went 4-for-4 from the field including a trio of 3-pointers to lead all LU scorers at the half with 13. Freshman center Stephen Hurt followed Martin Smith's 18 with 12 of his own and added 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Kentucky's Kyle Wiltjer paced all scorers with a 23-point game coming off the bench that included 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arch.
Along with the second-half shooting woes, 24 turnovers plagued the Bisons offense including 15 in the first half that led to 19 points for the Wildcats.
“(The turnovers) were more self-inflicted than because of Kentucky,” said Sanderson. “That happens sometimes with a young team. We have to be able to learn how to play through that.”
Martin Smith echoed what Sanderson had to say about overcoming tough spots in the game..
“We need to be able to handle adversity,” said Smith. “We hit a spell where they started making their run and we did not respond to it well. In the first half, we showed that we can play with guys like this, it's just a matter of being able to play with them for 40 minutes.”
Lipscomb continues road action at in-state foe Austin Peay on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Clarksville, Tenn. Catch the action live on 102.5 The Game starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.