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Centre battles at juggernaut Kentucky in exhibition loss

Centre battles at juggernaut Kentucky in exhibition loss

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Friday in Rupp Arena was a night of friendly competition and a reignited rivalry in what turned out to be a celebration of Bluegrass basketball between the host University of Kentucky Wildcats and visiting Centre College Colonels.

While the 'Cats won the exhibition by a 106-63 score, the Colonels enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against a basketball powerhouse in front of a packed Rupp crowd.

"What a night for Centre basketball," Head Coach Greg Mason said. "What a night for Centre College. I can't thank Coach (John Calipari), (UK Deputy Athletic Director) Dwayne Peevy and Kentucky Basketball enough for an amazing night."

Sophomore Perry Ayers (Bowling Green, Ky.) paced Centre with 14 points, but all 19 Colonels saw action against the Wildcats.

Ayers put the Colonels on the board with a bucket less than two minutes in, but Centre shot 3 of 11 with an 0-for-5 mark from 3-point range to start the game.

Midway through the opening half, however, the Colonels reeled off a 12-3 run to pull within six, 28-22, with under nine to play in the period. Tucker Sine (Bowling Green, Ky.) and Jacob Bates (LaGrange, Ky.) each knocked down triples during the run.

Kentucky would answer in a big way, closing the half on a crippling 24-2 run while shooting 11 of 15. The Wildcats carried a 52-24 lead into the break, finishing the half with a 27-9 advantage on the boards.

Centre continued to battle in the second half, coming out of the locker room on a 10-4 spurt.

While the Wildcats refused to allow the Colonels to get too close, the visiting underdogs still hung tough until the final buzzer.

Kentucky enjoyed its measurable advantage in size, outrebounding the Colonels 52-17 – including 20 offensive boards – while totaling eight blocks and 56 points in the paint.

Sine followed Ayers with 12 points, while Bates led the Colonels with four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Bailey Rakes (Mt. Washington, Ky.) had five points and a game-high three steals.

"Other than just a devastating run at the end of the first half, I thought we were awesome," Mason said. "I couldn't be more proud of our guys. I told them, 'Let's represent Centre College and Centre basketball in a way that's deserving.' And I thought our guys did that and more. So very, very proud, very pleased."

Calipari also commented on the Colonels following the match, saying, "You know what was great with Centre College, they saw no fear. They were so excited to play and they just played until the horn."

Centre tips off the regular season at home Nov. 15, hosting Maryville (Tenn.) at 7:30 p.m. ET in Alumni Gymnasium.