Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Harrison had 16 points to lead a balanced Kentucky attack and the top-ranked Wildcats opened a season of sky- high expectations with an 85-45 trouncing of Grand Canyon at Rupp Arena.
With three starters and several other key contributors returning from last season's national runner-up squad, plus a typical loaded class of incoming recruits, the Wildcats entered 2014-15 as a heavy favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis. They did little to temper the hype on Friday against an overmatched Grand Canyon team in only its second year as a Division I program.
"It's not going to be easy," said Harrison on the expectations. "We have so much talent on our team, but we have a long way to go and we're still a young team."
Heralded freshman Trey Lyles put up 14 in just 17 minutes in his debut, while Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 12 points and four blocks in the rout. Dakari Johnson added a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds for Kentucky (1-0), which finished the night with an overwhelming 51-21 advantage on the glass.
Royce Woolridge paced the Antelopes (0-1) with 15 points and Daniel Alexander had 10 in the loss.
"We were mismatched obviously with the size and talent that they have," said Antelopes head coach and former NBA All-Star Dan Majerle. "It is a good stepping stone for us."
Grand Canyon withstood seven straight points from Harrison to begin the game to trail by just four, 10-6, at the first media timeout, but were held scoreless for the next five-plus minutes as Kentucky started to assert itself.
The Wildcats strung together a 16-3 run, with Lyles netting five points and Harrison the last five, to claim a 26-9 advantage with under nine minutes left in the first half, and the Antelopes never got closer than 15 down the rest of the way.
Twelve consecutive Kentucky points, most of which came in the paint, made it a 38-11 lead late in the opening period, and the margin was as high as 29 points until De'Andre Davis' layup got Grand Canyon within 46-13 at the break.
The Antelopes shot just 25 percent over the first 20 minutes while committing 13 turnovers that the Wildcats converted into 16 points.
Grand Canyon played the Wildcats even for much of the second half before Kentucky took over the final six minutes, closing out the contest with a 19-4 surge.
"First half defensively we were pretty good. That's why we had the gap we had," Wildcats head coach John Calipari stated. "Second half we didn't guard."
The Antelopes went 15-15 in their inaugural D-I season ... Grand Canyon hit 7-of-15 shots from 3-point range, with Woolridge making all four of his tries from beyond the arc ... Kentucky was just 3-of-14 on 3-pointers, but outscored the Antelopes 58-16 in the paint ... The Wildcats will host Buffalo on Sunday before taking on fifth-ranked Kansas in Indianapolis on Tuesday.