By RENALDO DORSETT
The Bahamas National Select squad held gave the Kentucky Wildcats all they could handle through 30 minutes, but the visitors separated themselves late in the second half to win their Big Blue Bahamas Tour debut.
The Wildcats won 85-61 last night in front of a crowd of 1290 fans at the Atlantis Resort’s Imperial Arena.
Mark St. Fort led the Bahamas with 14 points and was 3-6 from three-point range. Michael Carey scored 11, Kino Burrows had nine points and eight rebounds, Livingston Munnings had six points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots and Michael Bain scored seven.
Nick Richards led the Wildcats with 19 points, Tyler Herro had 16 off the bench, Keldon Johnson scored 11 and PJ Washington scored 10.
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle by 12, scored 12 more second-chance point and 10 more points off the bench.
Kentucky began the game on a 13-0 run, before Burrows finally ended the drought for the Bahamas with a three. A Richards jump-hook in the lane gave Kentucky a 19-9 lead but the Bahamas went on a 10-2 run to trim the deficit to just five on a Carey jumper, 21-16.
St. Fort scored on his second three and Trevonne Grant split a pair at the line to make the score 25-22 late in the second. Another St. Fort mid-range jumper kept the Wildcats from pulling away and brought the Bahamas within two, just plays later.
Kentucky made three of four free throws down the stretch to take a 42-35 at the half
St fort started the second half with a successful drive to the basket and his third three-pointer tied the game at 42 at the 18:23 mark.
The Bahamas took their first lead on a Burrows layup. The Wildcats responded with a 12-2 run to take the lead for good and regained 10 point lead on Johnson free throw, 59-49 with 10:24 left to play.
A Brad Calipari three followed by a Herro dunk gave Kentucky a 77-55 with 4:57 left.
The four-game, eight-day trip for Kentucky continues tonight against San Lorenzo de Almagro (Argentina) at 7pm.
They follow with games against Mega Bemax (Serbia) on August 11 at 7pm and Team Toronto on August 12 at 4pm.
Team Toronto will feature a group of top select Canadian players put together by head coach Roy Rana, who led the 2019 U-19 Canadian team to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships.
All games will be broadcasted live on ESPN’s SEC Network. The ESPN college basketball crew of Tom Hart, Seth Greenberg and Dan Dakich will be on the call.
The Wildcats launched their Big Blue Bahamas Tour Tuesday with a community outreach initiative in conjunction with Samaritan’s Feet International. They conducted a free shoe distribution to children in the Fox Hill area at the Faith Assemble of God, Johnson Road and Scott Alley.
Team members and head coach John Calipari washed the feet of over 150 children and supplied them with new pairs of socks and sneakers.
Kentucky’s Big Blue Bahamas tour is a joint venture between Complete Sports Management and the Bahamas Basketball Federation.
The Wildcats have travelled to the Bahamas twice under Calipari.
Prior to the 2014-15 season, Kentucky competed at the “Big Blue Bahamas Tour” with games against the Dominican Republic national team, Puerto Rican national team reserves and Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket (France) at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
Kentucky went on to 38-1 that season which included an undefeated regular season, SEC regular-season and tournament titles, and a trip to the Final Four.
The ‘Cats returned in 2016 when they defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 115-69 at the Imperial Arena in the Atlantis Showcase.
In conjunction with the tour, the programme will host the seventh annual “John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience.”