KENTUCKY 108, MARIST 58
Nov. 11, 2011
Rupp Arena; Lexington, Ky.
A day that began with a late night scare concluded with Kentucky turning a close season opener into a laugher.
The Cats started sluggishly and led by just nine at halftime before kicking it into high gear en route to a 108-58 victory over Marist at Rupp Arena. By the midway point of the second half the only intrigue was whether Terrence Jones – who had been a passenger in a car accident at 2:30 a.m. on the day of the game – would speak to reporters afterward.
Marist stayed well within reach of the Cats in the first half, playing into the locker room down 45-36. But UK stormed out to begin the second half, starting it on a 28-8 run that proved too much for the Red Foxes.
“Winning – it’s nice. I love winning…I don’t know if we’re ready to play a team like Kansas or maybe even a team like Penn State. You saw the first half of this game. You had to walk away saying maybe (I’m) right. Anybody in the can beat us.”
“Well, the No. 2 team in the country showed up. I thought we did a good job in the first half. We had a good game plan to spread them out. We were preaching don’t settle for threes, drive the ball. In the second half their athleticism made up for a lot of mistakes.” – Marist coach Chuck Martin, on what changed in the second half
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
“I knew I was just going to try and fight through the pain and give it my all with everything that happened. I knew there would be a lot of attention on me and I didn’t want to make it seem like I was doing anything but playing hard.” – Terrence Jones, on his performance after being in a late night accident
Anthony Davis may be skinnier than Olive Oyl but Kentucky’s freshman forward is quickly serving notice he will be a force to be reckoned with this season. The 6-foot-11 Davis scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked five shots and added three assists, making him just the third player in Kentucky’s illustrious history to register at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in his collegiate debut. Sam Bowie (1979) and Terrence Jones (2010) were the other two players to accomplish that feat. Davis also added eight dunks, including six alley-oops.
Whether it was a hangover from thoroughly dismantling Morehouse College four days prior in the final exhibition game, fallout from Terrence Jones’ issues earlier in the day or just nerves, Kentucky looked ordinary while slogging its way to a 51-40 lead with 17:10 remaining in the game. The lights then came on and the Cats ripped off a 31-6 run over a span of eight minutes that turned a tight affair into a laugher.
DID YOU NOTICE?
Doron Lamb was on the receiving end of UK coach John Calipari’s wrath at various times in the first half but it would be difficult to argue with his final production. The sophomore guard – who left the game briefly after a blow to the face in the first half – finished with 15 points and a career-high eight assists, besting his previous high of seven set last season against Auburn.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continued to display how important his energy and infectious effort will be for this team, drawing Calipari’s praise for playing a large role in the Cats’ halftime lead. Kidd-Gilchrist’s final stats weren’t overwhelming – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals – but his unquantifiable contributions are likely to be a recurring theme this season.
34 – Kentucky quietly set a school record in the victory, posting its 34th consecutive victory at Rupp Arena, erasing the mark of 33 straight victories set from Jan. 29, 1992 to Feb. 9, 1994. John Calipari also ran his record to 34-0 in the famed arena. Kentucky also owns the all-time homecourt winning streak mark of 129, which ran from Jan. 4, 1943 to Jan. 8, 1955.
Perhaps it should tell everyone something about this squad that even when it plays a somewhat lackluster half of basketball it can respond with a dominating one. No one will mistake Marist for the heavy hitters on the Cats’ schedule but a 63-22 second half that saw the Red Foxes shoot 17 percent from the field is an indicator of how good UK can be when its on its game.
Kentucky (1-0) will get an early season test when it travels to New York City to face Kansas in the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. at Madison Square Garden and will follow the Michigan State-Duke opener.
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