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Young's Miracle Save Scores 2 for Opponent, but UK Rolls in Final Exhibition

This story appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by James Pennington. KY Forward's coverage of UK Athletics is sponsored by Republic Bank.

The final score of Kentucky’s exhibition finale Monday was: UK 95, Montevallo 72. Montevallo only scored 70 of those points. James Young accidentally added the most interesting two points of the night for Montevallo with 14:17 left in the second half. James Young, it should be reinforced, plays for Kentucky.

There weren’t many interesting points, really, among the 167 total scored Monday night. Julius Randle had a few moves that seemed to verify the hype surrounding his name: some taut spins in the lane, a 3-pointer lodged in there somewhere. There were some dunks. There are going to be dunks. But Young’s two, which didn’t even count toward his final tally of 16, were the most interesting of the night.

Willie Cauley-Stein blocked a Troran Brown field-goal attempt, and Young dove out of bounds on the left wing in an attempt to save the ball. As he flew out of bounds into the row of courtside fans, he blindly flung the ball high in the air back toward the court. The ball soared 20 or 25 feet in the air, and it went straight in the basket. Montevallo was awarded two points.

“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Cauley-Stein said. “I knew from the get-go, right when he tossed it back, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me, that’s going in.’ And it just dropped right in.

“I looked at James right after he threw it and he just looks at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ Like, ‘Did that seriously just happen?’ I’m like, ‘Dude,’ ” Cauley-Stein said.

The shot spoke to more than just the absurdity of the situation and the improbability of the shot going in: Don’t save a ball and fling it toward the other basket. “It’s probably not going to go in, but you’re throwing it to them,” John Calipari said.

When Cauley-Stein blocked the shot and saw Young sprint toward the sideline to save the ball, Cauley-Stein broke for the other end of the floor. He thought the Wildcats had a fast break, and he thought there would be an easy dunk on the other end. He’s seen it plenty of times before, and plays in those situations—for a team with such an athletic and physical advantage as Kentucky had over Montevallo—unfold almost as if dictated by an automated script. Computer code spits out fast breaks like that, except by throwing it toward the wrong end, Young introduced a variable for which the script did not account.

Things like that are bound to happen this early in a season in which five of the nine players who played at least 10 minutes Monday were freshmen. Accidents will happen. They may not always result in baskets for the other team as directly as Young’s did, because it would be impossible for anything to result in a basket for the other team more directly than that. It was a basket for the other team.

But accidents will happen with freshmen, and lessons will be imparted from said accidents. The idea is, the players learn many of those lessons before the regular season begins. That starts Friday against UNC Asheville, and with a day off from practice tomorrow, that leaves two sessions for Calipari to drill home some of what happened Monday and put it to use. UK plays Sunday against Northern Kentucky, and then it travels to Chicago on Tuesday to play No. 2 Michigan State.

“I mean, when you’re coaching this many young guys, it’s just—it made me laugh,” Calipari said. “That’s why I didn’t—I laughed at it.”

Watch the video of Young's shot:

Photo: Kentucky freshman James Young had 16 points for the Wildcats in a 95-72 exhibition win over Montevallo on Monday. (Photo by James Pennington)