Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44

Anthony Davis dominates as Kentucky throttles Tennessee

Davis flirts with triple-double, Cats cruise

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 1, 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

As the players returned to the court after the first television timeout Tuesday night, referee Antinio Petty approached Kentucky center Anthony Davis. Whatever Petty said, it made Davis smile and extend his hands as if to gesture, when you're hot, you're hot.

"He said, 'A.D., did you call bank on that shot?' " Davis said.

To which the UK freshman replied, "I didn't call anything. I'm just glad it went in."

Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin was not smiling, nor was he glad.

A bank shot from the elbow marked the first of two perimeter shots Davis made in UK's first four possessions, setting the tone for Kentucky's 69-44 victory.

"(I thought) It's going to be a long night," Martin said.

This long night for Tennessee capped a historic three-game stretch for Kentucky. For the first time since 1950-51, UK limited a third straight opponent to 50 or fewer points.

The Vols credited (or blamed) Davis for their season-low 28.1-percent shooting.

"We knew he was a shot blocker," UT freshman Jarnell Stokes said. "We didn't know he would change the game like he did."

Davis, who again flirted with a triple-double (18 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks), almost immediately set the one-sided tone at the defensive end. He rejected Stokes' post-up shot on Tennessee's third possession, a crowd-pleasing play that began Davis' move to 108 blocks this season. That got him past Sam Muldrow (103) and Erick Dampier (106) on the Southeastern Conference's all-time, single-season list.

"When you have a guy like that, they come along once in a lifetime," Martin said of Davis. "He changes the game for you."

In a reference to his days at Massachusetts, UK Coach John Calipari corrected Martin's once-in-a-lifetime remark.

"Well, I had one already," he said. "I had Marcus Camby, so that's twice in a lifetime, now. And I'm hoping for three or four."

Kentucky (22-1, 8-0 SEC) easily overcame an out-of-nowhere flash of brilliance by an opponent. Renaldo Woolridge, who had nine points in his previous six SEC games, led the Vols — and tied a career-high — with 17 points. He made a career-high five three-pointers.

The first half quickly indicated that this game could be a bigger rout than Romney against Gingrich in the Florida primary.

Kentucky didn't miss a shot in the first 11 minutes. No wonder the Cats led by 10 shortly after the first television timeout and cruised to a 38-25 halftime lead.

Meanwhile, Tennessee didn't hit the rim until the 17:12 mark. To make matters worse for the visitors, Trae Golden, whose five points accounted for the Vols' only scores in the first 8:56, picked up his second foul and went to the bench with 12:58 left.

The fans rose for a standing ovation at the first TV timeout with UK ahead 10-2. Kentucky did not miss until Darius Miller's open three-point attempt from the left side with 8:52 left. Overall, Kentucky made 53.7 percent of its shots.

Except for Woolridge, the first half would have been even more one-sided. He made five of five shots, all from three-point range, to keep Tennessee within hailing distance. He had made only one of eight three-point shots in his six most recent games.

Four of Woolridge's three-pointers came in a stretch that saw the Vols reduce a 26-8 UK lead to 32-22.

Kentucky re-established its 18-point margin early in the second half. Doron Lamb's three-pointer with 19:06 left — UK's only three in the game — put the Cats ahead 43-25.

It was flair over fundamentals the rest of the way for Kentucky.

Miller gave the crowd a thrill with 11:35 left. After Davis missed a shot from the elbow (forgot to bank it?), Miller flew to the rim and flipped it in while being fouled.

Late in the game, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist topped that highlight. Jones beat Golden to a ball that slipped out of the UT player's hands. After jumping over the sprawled Golden, Jones fed a fast-break pass to Kidd-Gilchrist who dunked.

All the while, Davis made the lane a no-fly zone for Tennessee.

"I've said it before, he's the difference," Martin said of Davis. "Probably one of the best, if not the best in the country at changing the game with his presence on the defensive side of the ball."

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