Kentucky's long-range shooting scorches LSU 82-44

UK zips past Tigers in its biggest SEC rout since '07Knight hits five threes as UK blasts LSU zone

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 16, 2011 

With Louisiana State the representative from the Mild, Mild West, Kentucky rolled to an 82-44 Southeastern Conference victory on Saturday.

Kentucky — and the 24,330 in Rupp Arena — enjoyed the program's widest margin of victory against a league opponent since beating South Carolina by 38 in 2007.

"I don't know what you want me to say," LSU Coach Trent Johnson told reporters afterward. "It was an old-fashioned (butt) whipping. There's nothing to say. They beat us top to bottom, every way but loose."

The Cats (14-3, 2-1 SEC) shot holes in LSU's zone with three-point marksmanship. Relieved early of any concern about winning, Kentucky made the rest seem like a glorified workout.

Brandon Knight led Kentucky with 19 points. Terrence Jones added 17, and juniors DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller had 15 each.

Josh Harrellson scored only two points but led Kentucky with 14 rebounds. He grabbed only seven rebounds against SEC teams last season.

LSU, which played without leading scorer Ralston Turner, fell to 10-8 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The Tigers got 13 points from Garrett Green. Andre Stinger, the team's only available player averaging double-digit points, made three of 16 shots (0-for-10 from three-point range).

Assistant Coach John Robic, who substituted for UK Coach John Calpari in the post-game news conference, credited the defense played by Liggins, who was 9 inches taller than Stringer.

"That's the reason Cal likes big guards," Robic said. "Our size gave him issues."

Not only was Liggins much taller, but Robic also noted how UK's perimeter defender was "quick enough to stay in front of him."

Kentucky outplayed LSU well enough in the opening 20 minutes to leave the floor with its largest halftime lead of the season. The Cats led 48-19, outdistancing the 40-19 halftime lead against Coppin State.

LSU knew immediately it would be a long half. Kentucky made six of its first eight three-point attempts to render LSU's zone defense meaningless.

"Our zone had been effective against lesser competition," Johnson said. Kentucky was more difficult to contain, he added, because "you can't cheat off one guy."

Kentucky's sharpshooting from beyond the arc helped build a 30-13 lead barely 11 minutes into the game.

Knight got the blitz started by making back-to-back threes inside the first 90 seconds. Three other Cats — Miller, Liggins and Doron Lamb — joined the fun as Kentucky made seven of 12 three-point attempts in the half.

"I will say this, and I know I'm biased," Robic said. "But we talk about our dribble-drive against man-to-man. I don't know why people don't look at what we do with the zone. Our zone-offense looks are terrific. ...

"We have seen every type of zone and, yeah, you have to make shots, but we are getting good looks. When we know what type of zone they are in, we can attack it. It's tough to zone us. We can spread you out. We've got four guys who can make shots, and we did that."

The half included a memorable display of teamwork. After Miller stole a pass and saved it to Knight, the ball got passed to Liggins who redirected it to Lamb in the right corner. After the bing-bing-bing passing, Lamb missed a baseline jumper. But Knight slipped down the lane for an easy put-back as the crowd's momentary disappointment switched to a roar.

Moments later, the decibel level reached a greater volume when Jon Hood answered the repeated calls for tougher, more determined play. He grabbed a rebound in traffic, gathered himself and then put in a contested shot.

As cheers filled Rupp Arena, Calipari seemed to mouth the word, "Hey!" and made sure Hood saw him clapping approval.

Kentucky did not blitz LSU with three-pointers in the second half. Not that it mattered.

Even with Liggins missing a driving dunk, the Cats expanded the lead to 36 points barely three minutes into the second half and cruised to victory.

Kentucky had not beaten an SEC opponent by a greater margin since an 80-40 demolishing of Mississippi on Feb. 22, 2006.

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