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Richmond uses its 'veteran moxie' to knock off Kentucky in Rupp Arena

By Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

On a historic day for Kentucky basketball, youth was not served.

Richmond, a team starting two seniors and two graduate students, defeated freshman-dependent Kentucky 76-64 on Sunday.

It was the first time in program history that Richmond had beaten a team ranked in the top 10 by The Associated Press on the road. The Spiders had previously lost all 25 such games. Kentucky came into the game ranked No. 10.

It was also only the 15th time in the history of Rupp Arena, which opened in the 1976-77 season, that Kentucky lost a home game by a double-digit margin. The only other time it happened in John Calipari's 12 seasons as coach came when Florida won 69-59 on Feb. 15, 2014.

In a postgame Zoom news conference, assistant coach Joel Justus returned repeatedly to the difference Richmond's experience made.

"This was a team that was going to present veteran moxie," Justus, who was substituting for Calipari in the postgame news conference, said of the Spiders. "We knew that coming in. We knew we'd have to play really well to win the game. And we didn't."

How did Richmond's veteran moxie present itself?

"It showed tremendously," said Brandon Boston, who led UK with 20 points.

Olivier Sarr, who posted a double-double (17 points and 11 rebounds) was just as succinct. "The score speaks for itself," he said.

Kentucky (1-1) did not have an assist in the second half, and it finished with only five. That equaled the fewest in John Calipari's 12 seasons as coach. UK had five in an overtime victory over LSU on Feb. 22, 2014.

"We have to become a little bit more unselfish on the offensive end," Justus said.

The zero assists in the second half, Justus said, showed "the ball was sticking a little bit."

With 21 turnovers, Kentucky's assist-to-turnover ratio was one-to-4.1.

Richmond (2-0) pulled away in the second half. A 21-10 run left Kentucky behind 72-56 with less than two minutes left.

Blake Francis and Nathan Cayo led Richmond with 18 points apiece. Two teammates chipped in double-digit points.

 

After a slow start, star guard Jacob Gilyard led Richmond to a 48-32 handling of Kentucky after the break. He had all but one of his six assists after halftime and finished with five steals.

Gilyard, who led Division I in steals last season, is on the preseason watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award.

"You are obviously aware of the kind of impact he has had on many games during his time at Richmond ...," Justus said. "You have to be prepared for that. ... And we were. ...

"Our guys are smart enough to know the premium you've got to have on backcourt play to be successful here (and) to be successful anywhere."

In the first half, Richmond made only 10 of 35 shots (two of 12 from three-point range). The Spiders' combination of experience and Princeton style of offense made no impression.

Richmond failed to cash in on a single backdoor cut. And when the Spiders got near the basket, three UK blocks (and numerous other "contests") made that unproductive.

Gilyard had little impact in the first half. Richmond's star guard missed all six off his shots. He had one steal and one assist before halftime.

Gilyard got off to a fast start after the break. He had a steal and two assists inside the first three minutes. That helped put Kentucky behind 36-30, which was the Cats' largest deficit at that point.

Richmond got its first backdoor score with 12:01 left. Big man Grant Golden passed to a cutting Andre Gustavson for a layup that put Kentucky behind 46-43.

A pass that led to a better shot netted a three-pointer for Richard. That put Kentucky behind 51-44 and prompted a UK timeout with 10:37 left.

The deficit grew after the timeout. Gilyard's steal and fast-break layup put Richmond ahead 55-46.

After a UK turnover, Golden made a three-point shot — the ball hit off the rim, then dropped through — to give Richmond a 58-46 lead.

Kentucky closed within 58-50. Then Gilyard answered with a fast-break layup. Then he backhanded a flip pass to set up a three-pointer by Matt Grace that put Richard ahead 63-50 with 4:26 left.

Kentucky looks for "kills," which it defines as two or more consecutive defensive stops. There were not many in a second half that saw Richmond shoot with 59.4-percent accuracy (19 of 32).

(c)2020 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC