Texas-Arlington-Kentucky Preview

The Associated Press

Kentucky coach John Calipari offered an unusual reason for why he decided to start five freshmen for the first time.

A lopsided victory could lead him to go with the same unit when the fourth-ranked Wildcats host Texas-Arlington on Tuesday night.

Kentucky (3-1) beat Robert Morris 87-49 on Sunday in the first game in program history to feature five freshmen in the starting lineup. Six-foot-nine Marcus Lee got the nod because 7-foot sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein hadn't been winning the opening tip.

"I said, 'Willie, if you're not going to get the jump ball I'm going to start Marcus,'" Calipari said. "He said, 'OK.' I said, 'OK, so I'll start Marcus,' and that's why I did it."

Calipari wouldn't say why winning the tip was so critical in a game where his team built a 24-point halftime lead and cruised from there. Aaron Harrison led the way with 28 points after Julius Randle led Kentucky in scoring in its first three games. Randle still got his fourth double-double in as many games with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

The Wildcats certainly didn't need much from Randle, considered the best of this star-studded freshman class.

Calipari used the mismatch to tinker with his team, which lost 78-74 to then-No. 2 Michigan State last Tuesday to fall out of the No. 1 ranking. He employed some pressure defense that opponents hadn't seen in the first three games.

"You noticed we pressed a little bit," he said. "I put in a press the last three days. I've got to add more of a press."

Lee felt the addition to the game plan fit his style of play.

"I absolutely love pressing because that's where I shine," Lee said. "I love giving the offensive player the worst possible weight. You won't make it past half court because I won't let you."

UT Arlington (2-2) has never played Kentucky and did not place a player on the preseason first or second All-Sun Belt teams. The Mavericks were in the Western Athletic Conference last season.

They've won 43 games and reached postseason play over the last two seasons, and coach Scott Cross is eager to test his team against one of the nation's best programs.

"I am really excited about the opportunity to play against Kentucky," Cross said. "They are one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball and probably have the biggest fan base, so it should be an awesome atmosphere for our guys."

Cross has a player familiar with big-time college basketball in Oklahoma State transfer Reger Dowell, who ranks among the nation's leaders with 26.0 points per game.

The Mavericks haven't played since Friday's 83-73 defeat to Cleveland State in which they shot a season-low 32.8 percent. Dowell scored 25.

UT Arlington likes to shoot the 3, averaging 27.0 attempts. Dowell is shooting 41.5 percent with a team-leading 41 attempts from beyond the arc.