Lexington, KY – Kyle Wiltjer scored 23 points to lead a torrid Kentucky shooting display as the No. 3 Wildcats throttled Lafayette, 101-49, in their home season opener from Rupp Arena.
Wiltjer knocked down 7-of-11 three-point attempts and Alex Poythress went 9- of-10 from the field in a career-best 22-point effort as Kentucky (2-1) bounced back strongly from Tuesday's 75-68 loss to ninth-ranked Duke in Atlanta.
The Wildcats shot a sizzling 64.5 percent as a team, their highest percentage in John Calipari's five seasons as head coach.
"It was a great feeling," said Wiltjer of his performance. "I really want to give credit to my teammates just finding me the ball. It is great from Coach Cal teaching us where to go when we don't have the ball so we are not just standing around."
Tony Johnson had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting for Lafayette (1-2), which fell to 0-9 all-time against Southeastern Conference opponents.
The Leopards played without leading scorer Dan Trist, who was coming off a 30- point effort in the team's overtime victory over LIU-Brooklyn on Monday.
Kentucky wasted no time getting its offense rolling, as the Wildcats hit 13 of their first 16 field goal tries and built a 25-point lead less than 12 minutes into the contest.
Wiltjer buried a trio of 3-pointers with just over three minutes elapsed as Kentucky jumped out to a 13-7 edge. After a triple by the Leopards' Joey Ptasinski on the other end brought Lafayette within three, the Wildcats erupted for nine straight points and took a commanding 22-10 advantage when Jarrod Polson fed Willie Cauley-Stein for an easy dunk with 13 minutes to go in the first half.
A layup by the Leopards' Ben Freeland temporarily stopped the spurt, as Kentucky followed with a 15-0 run to quickly put the game out of reach.
Poythress poured in six points during the run, which Cauley-Smith capped with a pair of dunks that put the Wildcats ahead by a 37-12 count with 8:21 left before intermission.
"They're more athletic than us, so it's hard for us to get out there and pressure them, double-team them and turn them over," said Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon. "It's not something we can do. I don't know if maybe there are some other teams that can do that, but it certainly wasn't going to be us chasing them."
Lafayette managed to close within 51-31 at the break and kept its deficit near the 20-point mark during the early stages of the second half, before Kentucky began to further pull away.
Poythress scored five points during a 12-0 flurry that extended the Wildcats' margin to 74-39 just past the midway point of the stanza. Lafayette would record only a single basket over the next eight minutes, with Kentucky putting together a run of 27 unanswered points at one point to take an overwhelming 101-41 lead with slightly more than a minute remaining.
The game was part of the Barclays Center Classic, a round-robin series of games between five programs (Kentucky, Lafayette, LIU-Brooklyn, Maryland, Morehead State). Both teams were playing their second game in the event, with the Wildcats defeating Maryland in Brooklyn on Nov. 9 and the Leopards recording a 98-94 home overtime decision over LIU on Monday ... Julius Mays dished out a career-best 10 assists for Kentucky while starting in place of Ryan Harrow, who sat out a second straight game due to illness ... Kentucky's previous best field goal percentage under Calipari was 61.3 percent, set during a 108-58 rout of Marist on Nov. 11, 2011 ... The Wildcats improved to 94-16 all-time in home openers and have prevailed in 10 of their last 11 such games.