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Davis: Master of Rejection

Kentucky has a new record holder.

Anthony Davis leaped toward an Arkansas shooter on the perimeter for one of his seven blocked shots on Tuesday at Rupp Arena. (247Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond)

Anthony Davis swatted away BJ Young’s drive with 4:54 remaining in the first half to give him 84 rejections, establishing the UK single-season blocked shots record. The freshman pushed Andre Riddick and Melvin Turpin into second place in the tradition-rich program’s hierarchy.

Davis highlighted the Cats’ 86-63 victory over Arkansas at Rupp Arena, finishing with seven blocks to give him 89 in just 19 games. The Chicago native also produced a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds.

The 6-foot-10 freshman moved up to 35th in the national team rankings for blocked shots, flanked by Cincinnati and Oregon State, and is on pace to break former Mississippi State fly-swatter Jarvis Varnado’s Southeastern Conference single-season record of 170 rejections. While David Robinson’s NCAA record 207 blocks is likely out of the question, Davis could finish as high as fifth on Kentucky’s all-time career blocks list in just one season.

Here is what Davis’ coaches, teammates and opponents had to say about the sensational freshman after the game:

Kentucky coach John Calipari:
“I’ve coached Marcus Camby, and (former Massachusetts assistant) Bruiser Flint called me the other day and said (Davis) does what Marcus Camby did for us. He clears up all of your errors.

“I’ve been blessed that I’ve coached two of the great shot blockers (in college basketball)…Maybe I can coach Anthony (Davis) three years like I did Marcus (Camby). That would be a lot of fun. I’m going to try to influence him that way.”

Kentucky guard Marquis Teague:
“This is the first player like that I’ve played with. He’s guaranteed to come out of every game with five blocks. He do what he do – he almost gets a triple-double every night.

“It has to (wear on opponents) because he says (he’s going to block a shot) and then he does that and comes out of every game with five or six blocks. That’s intimidating for people.”

Kentucky guard Darius Miller:
“He dominates games most of the time on the offensive end and defensive end. He makes us a lot more comfortable on the defensive end and makes us play a lot better, especially when he’s back there blocking shots.”

Kentucky forward Terrence Jones:
“(Davis’ shot blocking) is something you want to have on your team. It helps knowing that somebody has your weak side help and it allows you to play more aggressively on defense. It just gives you more comfort knowing that he is back there. If gives you confidence that if you get back that he will be there to block the shot or at least alter it.”

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson:
“I thought their size was a big problem for us, especially with Anthony Davis. He is a difference maker. No matter how tried to mount an attack I thought they did a good job answering with their defense.”

Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade:
“Looking at (Davis) on TV he’s really tall and lanky and you don’t think he’d be that physical but actually the guy is pretty physical. He gets in there and he’s relentless. He’s always on attack. I went down (into the paint) one time and he just told his guys, ‘Just bring him in here, I’m going to block everything.’ When you have a guy that play with that kind of mindset, he lets you play with that type of relief on your shoulder knowing that you have a guy like that.”

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas:
“UK's Anthony Davis is the best defender in the country. And, it is not close. He covers up the rim from ten feet in. Tremendous.”

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