Kentucky 73, Arkansas-Little Rock 51

Lackadaisical Cats pull past UALR

UK spiritless, but Davis provides push

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 4, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

LOUISVILLE — After Kentucky beat Arkansas-Little Rock 73-51 Tuesday night, Coach John Calipari said he was eager to watch the game video.

"Just to get rid of it," he said. " ... Then I'll throw it out the window."

Though playing an opponent missing its best player and possessing a Ratings Percentage Index of only No. 225, Kentucky could not separate itself from UALR until midway through the second half.

Once establishing separation, UK zoomed away from the outmanned opponent.

But because it took so long, and familiar questions about toughness arose again, even Darius Miller reaching the 1,000-point mark in his career failed to create much joy.

For many more minutes than Calipari preferred, the Cats' performance was as empty as the upper deck beyond each baseline.

"We had no intensity," said Miller, whose 15 points made him the 58th player in the program's history to reach 1,000. "We were very sluggish. We have to do a better job coming out and taking care of business."

An announced crowd of 14,747 watched UALR take the initiative despite playing without forward Will Neighbour, its leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. The Trojans led as late as the 15:07 mark of the second half.

By then, UALR believed.

"A lot," said guard D'Andre Williams, who scored 11 points. "I never had a doubt."

Then Kentucky went on a 23-1 run to ensure its 14th victory in 15 games, if not satisfaction.

"Till you really get knocked, I don't know if they'll understand," said Calipari, who spoke of lessons to learn from the surprising struggle. "It's what we are right now."

Anthony Davis led with 22 points and 16 rebounds. That marked his eighth double-double of the season and fourth straight. That led a 50-23 rebound domination by Kentucky.

Terrence Jones added 10 points. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds.

For the first time since the Indiana game (and only the third time this season), Kentucky trailed at halftime. UALR's 30-27 lead at intermission was no fluke.

The Trojans led at each of the four television timeouts: 7-6, 9-8, 17-16 and 24-21.

Nor did UK face a freakishly hot-shooting opponent. UALR made only 34.2 percent of its first-half shots. Its leading scorer in the half, Chuck Guy, had 11 points, which included a pair of three-pointers in the final 97 seconds.

"I was excited," said Guy, who led UALR with 19 points. "I expected us to win it. It didn't turn out that way."

Calipari repeatedly urged Kentucky to pick up the pace. Mostly, UK bungled its way through the half, as evidenced by 13 turnovers (as many or more than UK had had in eight earlier games).

With Calipari waving the Cats upcourt, Miller fumbled Marquis Teague's outlet pass, which halted that transition opportunity.

Kyle Wiltjer fumbled away a pass — and a layup — created by a Miller feed.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fell down in the post as UK made the entry pass.

Fans might have wondered what might be happening when freshman forward Michael Javes hit a three-pointer to break a 21-21 tie. It was Javes' first shot from beyond the arc this season.

With Miller starting the second half in place of Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky took the initiative. Teague's foul-line jumper put the Cats ahead 31-30 with 17:56 left. That marked UK's first lead since 8-7.

But it didn't last. Guy put UALR back ahead by ripping the ball from Doron Lamb and zipping to a fast-break layup.

Calipari looked incensed when Miller rebounded a missed three-pointer by Teague, then threw a weak pass away from the basket rather than going aggressively for a putback.

At the first TV timeout of the second half, Kentucky trailed 34-33.

A 14-1 run put Kentucky in charge. Trailing 34-31 with barely 16 minutes left, the Cats led 45-35 within five minutes.

UALR went scoreless for more than five minutes (and had only one basket in the second half's first 12 minutes).

Meanwhile, Kentucky took the lead on a heavily-contested Davis shot in the lane with 15:06 left.

Lamb's jumper from the elbow put UK ahead 37-34 with 15:06 left. That equaled the Cats' largest lead since Lamb opened the game with a three-pointer.

Three-pointers by Kidd-Gilchrist and Miller — marking each's first of the game — grew the lead to 45-35. Miller's three-pointer established that lead with 11 minutes left and got him past the 1,000-point mark for his career.

Senior Darius Miller on Tuesday became the 58th Wildcat to score 1,000 career points. The club:

The top 10

1. Dan Issel 2,138

2. Kenny Walker 2,080

3. Jack Givens 2,038

4. Keith Bogans 1,923

5. Tony Delk 1,890

6. Jamal Mashburn 1,843

7. Kevin Grevey 1,801

8. Tayshaun Prince 1,775

9. Cotton Nash 1,770

10. Alex Groza 1,744

The Rest

11. Ed Davender 1,637; 12. Louie Dampier 1,575; 13. Patrick Patterson, 1,564; 14. Mike Casey 1,535; 15. Ralph Beard 1,517; 16. Melvin Turpin 1,509; 17. Cliff Hagan 1,475; 18. Pat Riley 1,464; 19. Johnny Cox 1,461; 20. Joe Crawford 1,438.

21. Kyle Macy 1,411; 22. Winston Bennett 1,399; 23. Rick Robey 1,395; 24. Gerald Fitch 1,391; 25. Mike Phillips 1,367; 26. Mike Pratt 1,359; 27. Frank Ramsey 1,344; 28. Ramel Bradley 1,326; 29. Jim Andrews 1,320; 30. Sam Bowie 1,285.

31. Jim Master 1,283; 32. John Pelphrey 1,257; 33. Scott Padgett 1,252; 34. Jodie Meeks, 1,246; 35. Tom Parker 1,238; 36. Deron Feldhaus 1,231; 37. Derrick Hord 1,220; 38. Bill Spivey 1,213; 39. Chuck Hayes 1,211; 40. Rodrick Rhodes 1,209.

41. Wayne Turner 1,170; 42. Reggie Hanson 1,167; 43. Derrick Miller 1,156; 44. Vernon Hatton 1,153; 45. Wallace Jones 1,151; 46. Randolph Morris 1,123; 47. Jeff Sheppard 1,091; 48. Bill Ray Lickert 1,076; 49. Rex Chapman 1,073; 50. Dirk Minniefield 1,069.

51. Jamaal Magloire 1,064; 52. Erik Daniels 1,053; 53. Jim Line 1,041; 54. Bob Burrow 1,023; 55. Ron Mercer 1,013; 56. Darius Miller, 1,010; 57. Jimmy Dan Conner 1,009; 58. Bobby Watson 1,001.

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