There were many moments during Wednesday night's Blue-White scrimmage where Kentucky's freshmen justified the lofty expectations placed upon them.
Archie Goodwin showed some flash while scoring a game-high 32 points. Willie Cauley-Stein was a formidable post presence with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Swingman Alex Poythress added 25 points with quickness and athleticism.
A sore back slowed highly touted forward Nerlens Noel, but the point was seeing how this foursome played together and with others in their first competitive appearance before the Wildcats faithful. Early returns were encouraging, as they contributed to both teams in a game won by the Blue 89-88.
However, the bottom line is meeting John Calipari's high standards and the Wildcats coach quickly noted that this is a work in progress.
"We have a way to go," Calipari said afterward. "We don't rebound, we don't scramble. Other than that, we're a pretty good team."
Calipari was kidding, noting replacing six players from last season's national championship team would lead to some falloff. Kentucky had scrimmaged just 12 minutes before Wednesday because he has spent much of fall practice teaching his young squad fundamentals.
That showed with a lack of defense.
"It's going to take a lot more talking on defense and just executing on the defensive schemes more than we have been," Goodwin said. "We're still learning, so we'll continue to practice on it. We'll get better and better every day we practice it as long as we work hard."
At the same time, some nice combinations emerged thanks to newcomers such as transfer Julius Mays, a graduate student who played last season for Wright State.
He displayed good speed and ball movement along with a nice outside shot for the Blue squad. The highlight of his 13-point game was a fadeaway 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, which looked more planned than hurried.
"It's just trying to find my game," Mays said. "I just want to do whatever it is this team needs me to do, whether that's scoring or coming in and creating for others or distributing the ball, or even if it's coming in and getting greedy on the defensive end. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win."
He seemed to find chemistry with Cauley-Stein, who fed him for one shot before Mays returned the favor by lobbing a pass to the 7-footer for a dunk to help the Blue team lead 29-17.
"Me and Julius are (among) seven players that figure to get a lot of playing time, so we had to go at it like that," Cauley-Stein said.
Noel finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Among the veterans, Kyle Wiltjer had 28 points, Jon Hood 17 and Jarrod Polson 13. Sophomore Ryan Harrow had 20.