- Associated Press - Friday, November 25, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Other than the start, Kentucky coach John Calipari had few complaints about the top-ranked Wildcats’ latest domination featuring more examples of Malik Monk’s skills.

Monk scored a career-high 26 points, De’Aaron Fox added 16 and Kentucky routed UT-Martin 111-76 on Friday night, the most points scored in the Calipari Era.

The taller Wildcats overcame a slow shooting start and 16-15 deficit to the athletic Skyhawks before rolling to a season-high victory margin. Kentucky (6-0) shot a season-best 55 percent from the field by controlling the paint 54-28 and the boards 48-26, along with recording 24 assists.

“They got our best today,” Calipari said. “And the way we moved the ball - I kind of like coaching against zone and I want my team to feel like if they play zone, that’s a good thing. Let’s go do this.”

Monk’s 10-of-17 shooting led the way with Fox making 7 of 12 from the field. Monk has scored at least 23 points in three of his past four games and this effort featured 10 over a 1:51 stretch in the second half highlighted by back-to-back dunks. He also jumped high to swat a lob pass out of bounds.

The Wildcats freshman guard wasn’t available afterward, but teammates lobbed plenty of praise at Monk.

“I would say he’s fired up,” said senior guard Dominique Hawkins, who had a career-best nine assists along with six points. “He’s the most exciting athlete I’ve played with on a team. I don’t know how he blocked that lob. He just jumped up there, cuffed it and threw it.”

Monk wasn’t the only Wildcat to stand out.

Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo, who had 12 rebounds, each had a career-high 15 points for Kentucky, which won the game that was part of a matchup of unbeaten teams in the four-game Bluegrass Showcase.

Matthew Butler scored 15 points and Jacolby Mobley had 14 for UT Martin (5-2), which shot just 33 percent in the second half and 41 percent overall in having its five-game winning streak stopped.

THE BIG PICTURE

UT Martin: Despite giving away several inches inside against Kentucky, the Skyhawks’ quickness helped their zone work early on. But they soon began sending Kentucky to the free throw line in the first half and were eventually worn down by Kentucky’s height and quickness. “Their length can be very problematic. It was problematic for us,” first-year coach Anthony Stewart said. “We thought possibly we’d have a chance with our maturity and our older guys against some younger guys. It just didn’t work out that way tonight.”

Kentucky: The Wildcats led by as many as 48 points in the second half en route to their sixth win by at least 21 points, which hasn’t been done since the 1947-48 “Fabulous Five” won their first six games by at least 24. Calipari joked that this team might be the “Fabulous Nine” but noted that the fast starts depend on the competition. The docket gets much tougher with Arizona State and UCLA next week and rival Louisville ahead in December, so this was the preparation Kentucky needed. “Our run of games is going to be coming now, and it’s how I believe we have to schedule,” Calipari added.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky’s lofty perch appears safe through Monday’s next poll but will be tested with back-to-back games against Pac-12 members Arizona State and UCLA.

INJURY REPORT

Senior Derek Willis played just 8 minutes and Calipari said he sprained his right thumb. Sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe meanwhile missed his second straight game and was scheduled to undergo an MRI after the game on his injured back.

UP NEXT

UT Martin: Returns home from the three-game road swing to host Florida Atlantic on Tuesday.

Kentucky: Faces Arizona State on Monday night in the Atlantis Showcase in the Bahamas. The Wildcats are 4-0 against the Sun Devils including last year’s 72-58 win in Lexington.

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AP College Basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org

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