After his team lost to Kentucky 82-50 Tuesday night, Samford Coach — and wry humorist — Jimmy Tillette had seen more than enough of Doron Lamb.
His reaction to the latest display of productive play by the sophomore guard?
"I like fish better than Lamb," Tillette quipped.
Lamb, who had averaged 18.3 points in the three most recent games, poured in 26 points, which equaled a season high. He also grabbed six rebounds, which marked the second straight game he'd set a career-high.
Lamb's performance suggested he was delivering the kind of consistent, high-energy play that UK Coach John Calipari had been requesting, well, since before the guard's first college game. Fans might recall Calipari criticizing Lamb's lack of energy in the warmups before UK's first exhibition game in Canada in the summer of 2010. Repeatedly, Calipari questioned the Lamb's "motor."
"The extra time he's spending on the basketball court," Calipari said when asked about Lamb's suddenly consistent production. "You all see the benefit of it."
Lamb, whose point total in the past two games reached 50 (on 18-for-29 shooting), noted how he had experienced "a lot of treadmill" lately for conditioning.
"I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "It's paying off."
Lamb, whose 31 minutes gave him 30 or more for a fifth straight game, dismissed questions about fatigue. "I never get tired on the court," he said.
His continuing stat-stuffing came on a night that All-America candidate Terrence Jones watched the action in street clothes.
Kentucky (10-1) got off to a fast start. Lamb contributed five points to an 11-0 UK run to start the game.
Samford (3-7) came into the game with the lowest Ratings Percentage Index of any UK opponent (No. 335, or only higher than nine other Division I teams).
On Monday, Calipari had lamented his team's inefficient offense. "We're just not there," he said.
The kinks in Kentucky's offense were not noticeable in the first half. UK made its first five shots, 15 of its first 19, and could have posted its highest-scoring first half of the season.
The Cats went ahead 45-20 with 1:50 left in the half. Kentucky missed its final five shots to miss equaling the high for first-half scoring this season: 47 against Penn State.
Lamb led the way with 16 first-half points. Darius Miller added 12 of his 17.
"Good coach, superior talent and our team a little nervous," Tillette said in explaining the opening minutes. "We were a little starry-eyed."
Fueled by transition offense (four of the first five baskets were layups), Kentucky led by as much as 25 in the first half.
Subbing for Calipari on the weekly radio call-in show Monday, assistant coach John Robic noted how the UK coach was a perfectionist. Surely, Calipari saw room for improvement.
For instance, the Cats did not always play with a "vicious" (Calipari's word) zeal. Freshman Kyle Wiltjer had the ball ripped from his grasp as he tried to maneuver for a post-up shot.
Later, Calipari called time out and appeared to reprimand Anthony Davis after his man hit a three-pointer from the corner.
Still, Kentucky led by double-digit points for the final 13:38 of the half and seemed all but able to set the final score. The second half brought no change. UK extended its lead to 30 points when Lamb hit a 15-footer from the left side with 13:54 left.
The game was so one-sided that the giant "UK" logo banner — rotated at center court during the final television timeout — drew only tepid applause.
Lamb's four three-pointers equaled the season-high he set against Chattanooga on Saturday. He also hit several floaters in the lane.
"One of my go-to moves," he said of the latter.
Lamb credited his mother, Brigitte, who he said took him to the park when he was growing up and made him work on the floater. "I always went to the rack (before that)," he said, then added, "I always got it blocked."
As for reaching double-digits in five straight games (making 14 of 24 three-pointers in that span), Lamb noted Calipari's desire for more effort.
"Coach Cal forced it out of me," Lamb said.