No. 1 Kentucky exacts its revenge on Robert Morris

Colonials' upset last season was a distant memory as the rematch turned into a rout early and often

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- What took place Sunday at Rupp Arena was a basketball game, but for Robert Morris it was a reminder of how much had changed in 213 days.

Eight months after the Colonials defeated Kentucky in the National Invitation Tournament, they played the Wildcats again, this time in a game in which the only commonalities were seemingly the coaches and the schools represented.

Instead of a maligned group of underachievers, Robert Morris faced the top-ranked team in the country led by a freshman class widely considered to be the best in college basketball history.

As opposed to playing in its cozy home gym, it had to travel six hours to a palatial 23,000-seat venue full of opposing fans who hadn't forgotten what happened to their beloved Wildcats last season.

If the past eight months were a fantasy for Robert Morris, Sunday's game was a sobering dose of reality, one that ended with an 87-49 loss.

"There's obviously a lot of things for us to learn from this experience," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "Everybody wants to build the story up from last year's game, but these are two completely different teams."

Julius Randle, the Wildcats' wunderkind freshman forward projected to be a top-three NBA draft pick, scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while routinely being defended by two or three Colonials.

With the increased emphasis on Randle, other Kentucky players were often left open for uncontested shots. Freshman guard Aaron Harrison was the biggest beneficiary, as he scored 28 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Between the two rosters, there were 16 new players. But while Kentucky and Robert Morris are still working to incorporate many new parts, the Wildcats newcomers include five of the top 11 freshmen in the 2013 recruiting class. It's something that made Kentucky (3-1) the preseason No. 1 team in Division I before most of the team had played a single collegiate game.

From the early moments Sunday, that talent gap showed.

Led by nine points from Harrison, Kentucky opened the game with a 17-2 run before the Colonials (2-2) made their first field goal 8:24 into the game.

By halftime, Robert Morris had missed 24 of its first 30 shots and faced a 44-20 deficit. It would not get within 20 points for the remainder of the game.

Still, even with a 38-point win, Kentucky coach John Calipari saw room for improvement.

"We've got to become a great team and we're not great right now," he said. "We've got terrific players, but we're not a great team."

Already burdened by limited frontcourt options, the Colonials were overwhelmed by the size of the Wildcats, who have six players 6 feet 8 or taller. That height disparity translated to a 56-33 rebounding margin and a decisive 35-13 advantage in frontcourt points.

Karvel Anderson led all Robert Morris players with 16 points on a night the Colonials, unlike last season, were simply overmatched.

"Now that it's over with and the second part has occurred and order has been restored, we'll be able to move on with our season," Toole said.


Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.

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