Lamb's 32 set UK freshman record as Cats rout Winthrop, 89-52

Lamb breaks UK freshman scoring record with 32

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 23, 2010 

After weighing his options, Winthrop Coach Randy Peele chose to limit Kentucky's signature offensive strategy: the ability to penetrate to the basket (or as salesman-at-heart John Calipari dubs it, the dribble-drive).

"The only chance we had is that they don't make threes," Peele said. "You have to pick your poison."

The poison on Wednesday had the distinct taste of Lamb. Doron Lamb hit a career-high seven three-pointers and set a Kentucky freshman scoring record with 32 points in an 89-52 victory over Winthrop.

Lamb made 11 of 12 shots, kick-starting UK's 12-for-22 accuracy from beyond the arc on this most merry Christmas send-off.

"He was good, huh?" Calipari said. "And you know what else? He was good defensively."

Calipari credited Lamb as the UK player who "shut down" the screening action that got Winthrop several point-blank shots at the basket.

But it was at the offensive end that Lamb shone as bright as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in his hometown of New York City, which was where he was headed almost immediately after the game.

Coincidentally, Lamb broke the UK freshman scoring record held by another New Yorker, Jamal Mashburn, who scored 31 against Georgia on Feb. 3, 1991.

"We played on the same AAU team, but I never met him before," Lamb told a pool reporter before heading for an afternoon flight home out of Cincinnati. " ... It's an honor to break the record. Kentucky basketball is the biggest program in the country.

"I didn't even realize I was hitting a lot of threes. I knew I had hit a lot, but didn't know how many I had hit."

Lamb, who did not know he broke the record until told by the pool reporter, thanked his teammates for getting him the ball when he was open.

Earlier this season, Calipari noted that his freshman-oriented team could not be counted upon to feed the hot hand. That wasn't the case against Winthrop.

"He didn't have to say anything," point guard Brandon Knight said when asked if Lamb called for the ball. "I recognized it. I told him, 'Keep shooting it.' "

Big man Josh Harrellson suggested that Lamb benefited from being hot on Dec. 22 rather than, say, Nov. 22.

"A month ago, we probably wouldn't have kept going to him," Harrellson said. "Not out of hatred. Just not knowing what to do."

Hot shooting propelled Kentucky to a 51-32 halftime lead.

The Cats made 18 of 29 first-half shots, including 10 of 14 attempts from beyond the three-point line, to build its big cushion. The hottest player was Lamb, who made all six first-half shots he attempted, including five three-pointers.

Lamb set the halftime score with a driving layup, heavily contested and launched a split second before the buzzer. It was his only shot from inside the three-point line in the half.

Winthrop's only significant rally came with Lamb on the bench. After his fifth three-pointer put UK ahead 41-23, Lamb took a seat with 4:10 left in the half.

In the less than two minutes he sat, Winthrop scored nine straight points to force a Kentucky timeout. Lamb re-entered the game and the game returned to its one-sided pattern.

For a moment, it appeared Kentucky would need a big game from Lamb. With 15:50 left in the first half, Knight went down in a rebound scramble. He pounded the floor with a fist, suggesting a serious injury. Knight was helped off the floor, but it turned out to be nothing more serious than a knee bruise.

"I was just frustrated," Knight said of the fist-pound. "It was hurting. It was already sore. But I knew it was just a bumped knee. I just needed time."

Lamb started the second half in place of Terrence Jones. He equalled his previous career high of 24 points with 12:22 to go. An economical drive and three-point play put the Cats ahead 66-44.

Lamb surpassed his previous high with 10:10 left. His sixth three-pointer put UK ahead 69-46.

Two minutes later, he hit another three-pointer off a Knight pass to reach the 30-point mark.

Lamb eclipsed the UK freshman scoring record in style. He cut down the lane, took a pass from DeAndre Liggins and scored on a reverse layup with 6:35 left.

"It was like the basket was wide open," Knight said of Lamb's big game. "He just kept shooting it."

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