Cats romp (almost) past Ole Miss

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 3, 2010 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari continued having to decide what to do with his growing number of options on Tuesday.

Calipari's many choices were on display in UK's 85-75 victory over Mississippi.

DeMarcus Cousins continued the kind of double-double production that Calipari said he had never had at his disposal.

"Including the NBA," the UK coach said of his ill-fated stint with the New Jersey Nets. "I hate to do that to the kid. You have to remember, my team wasn't that good up there, put it that way."

After Cousins led UK with 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double, Calipari said, "I've never had a player come this far this fast."

But the X-factor might have been wing Darnell Dodson. He continued the good shooting from Saturday's victory over Vanderbilt. He hit four three-pointers — in five attempts — en route to 14 points as No. 4 Kentucky improved to 21-1 overall and 6-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

"I'm shooting with confidence," Dodson said. "I'm better prepared."

No. 25 Ole Miss fell to 16-6 overall and 4-4 in the SEC. Terrico White led the Rebels with 19 points. Chris Warren needed nine points in the final four minutes to reach double digits for an 11th straight game and 20th time in 21 games. He finished with 15 points.

Kentucky started and finished well in a seesaw first half. After scoring the game's first seven points en route to an 18-point lead, the Cats needed a strong finish to lead at intermission.

Ole Miss closed within 40-37 before Kentucky scored the final six points of the half to lead 46-37 at the break.

Cousins fueled UK's early dominance. He was more than halfway to a double-double barely six minutes into the game. When Darius Miller hit a floater in the lane (his first points in three games), Kentucky led 20-9 with 12:32 left.

With Ole Miss making only three of its first 16 shots, Kentucky got its fast break in high gear. A three-point play by Wall and then his feed for a Perry Stevenson dunk expanded UK's lead to 27-9 with 11 minutes left.

"If we could just eliminate the carelessness with the ball, that seven-eight-nine times they just took the ball," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "Kentucky's too good to give them those free points."

When it seemed the rout was on, Kentucky helped Ole Miss rally with turnovers. Three in a row followed Stevenson's dunk. That began a stretch of five turnovers in six trips downcourt.

With that help, Ole Miss got running in transition. Back-to-back fast-break layups reduced the margin to 29-20, prompting a UK timeout with 7:53 left.

The turnovers continued (Wall and Bledsoe combined for five of UK's 11 in the half, and the duo finished with 11 for the game).

"Some turnovers were just uncalled for," Calipari said. "What are we doing?!"

The UK coach attributed the turnovers to attempting "hero plays" or lackadaisical effort.

When White simply walked past a flat-footed Cousins to rebound a missed free throw, his put-back brought the Rebels within five, 40-35.

Ole Miss got as close as 40-37. But Cousins posted up for a basket, shrugging off a defender before scoring to steady the Cats. Fouled on the play, Cousins missed the free throw, but Patrick Patterson rebounded to set up a possession that yielded two Dodson free throws.

"DeMarcus Cousins is playing as well as any post player in college basketball," Kennedy said. "He's got the whole package."

Kentucky started fast in the second half. A rout seemed likely again when Bledsoe caught a deflected lob from Wall and laid in it. That made it 56-41, and it appeared to be 58-41 two seconds later when Cousins stole the inbounds pass and scored.

But Ole Miss had called a timeout from the bench before he scored.

Big man DeAundre Cranston's first three-pointer in league play got Ole Miss within eight at 60-52.

Back-to-back baskets by White brought the Rebels within three, 60-57.

Cousins eased the tension by putting back Bledsoe's missed layup.

Ole Miss failed to score, and Miller hit his first three-pointer since the Arkansas game (Jan. 23).

After a three-pointer by Patterson, low-post power and drives to the basket returned the margin to double digits and kept it there.

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