The 20th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats kicked off the Billy Gillispie era in style last night, and they are now set to host the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs in the second round of the 2K Hoops Classic in Lexington.
Gardner-Webb earned its spot in tonight's contest by beating Alabama A&M in a 69-55 final on Tuesday night. The Runnin' Bulldogs were picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Sun Conference prior to the start of the campaign after losing 21 games a year ago, but coach Rick Scruggs and his team are off to a solid start.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Gardner-Webb and
Only two starters are back in place for Gardner Webb, and Thomas Sanders is the best player on the roster. Last season, Sanders averaged 11.0 ppg and pulled down 7.0 rpg. In last night's game against Alabama A&M, Sanders struggled mightily, finishing just 3-of-18 from the floor and 3-of-8 from the foul line en route to nine points. Fortunately, guard Aaron Linn picked up the slack with 24 huge points on 8-of-12 efficiency from the field, including a 3-of-6 showing from behind the arc. Nate Blank and Auryn MacMillan added 10 points apiece for the Runnin' Bulldogs, who were fortunate to win despite 21 turnovers and 35.6 percent shooting from the field. The key was strong defense, as Gardner-Webb limited Alabama A&M to 34.7 percent overall shooting while also forcing 27 turnovers.
Joe Crawford does not start for