Riding a performance by freshman Anthony Davis that John Calipari suggested was Camby-esque, Kentucky overwhelmed Arkansas 86-63 on Tuesday night.
Davis scored a career-high 27 points — the most by a UK player this season — while breaking UK's school record for blocks in a season, swatting away seven against Arkansas.
The excellence on display led Calipari to mention Marcus Camby, his All-America big man on the Massachusetts Final Four team of 1996.
"He clears up all your errors," Calipari said of Davis/Camby, a comparison he attributed to a recent phone call from former assistant James "Bruiser" Flint.
Never miss a local story.
As if numbed by Davis' sixth double-double in the last eight games, Calipari suggested he might have been stumped for superlatives.
After praising the play of Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague, Calipari said he turned to Davis.
"Then I looked at him and said, you played good again," the UK coach said with bemused expression. "He does what he does every game. That's what he is."
Kentucky (18-1 overall, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) stifled Arkansas while exuding its dominance.
"We got better ..." Calipari said. "This is much better."
Davis came into the game among the nation's leaders in shooting (No. 7), rebounding (No. 19) and blocks (No. 1), and he looked the part. He made 10 of 12 shots while making Arkansas leery of venturing into the lane at the other end. His seven blocks gave him 89 this season.
"From TV, you can see he's really long and lanky," Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said of Davis. "You'd think he's not that physical. ... But he's always on the move, always on the attack."
Wade noted how Davis communicated his help defense to his UK teammates.
"He told his guys, 'Bring them here, I'll block everything,' " the Arkansas guard said.
Davis confirmed what Wade heard. He did want Arkansas players to come to the basket. "No point having silly fouls," he said of UK's perimeter defense.
Davis acknowledged how his shot-blocking presence can inhibit opponents.
"I know they're definitely thinking about it when they go to the hole," he said. " 'Where is Anthony Davis?' "
The first half saw Davis break the school single-season record for blocks and UK reject any Arkansas notion of staying close.
Kentucky scored the game's first eight points and widened the lead to as much as 20 points before easing to a 37-21 halftime cushion.
Arkansas, which came into the game as the SEC's highest-scoring team, had only 10 points until the 5:46 mark. The Razorbacks made only six of their first 22 shots and never got their running/pressing/trapping style established.
Kentucky controlled the half without much production from spark plug Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He picked up two fouls barely four minutes into the game (one being the only charge called on UK) and scored two points in five first-half minutes.
Davis equaled the UK record of 83 blocks in a season by snuffing a driving attempt by guard Rickey Scott.
The record, which was held by Andre Riddick (1993-94) and Melvin Turpin (1982-83), fell with 4:54 left in the half. Again, Davis came on help defense, this time blocking a driving shot by freshman BJ Young, who spun away from his defender only to be confronted by Davis.
His final block of the half gave Kentucky a lift going into intermission.
Wade lifted a UK defender with a ball fake. Quickly re-setting himself, Wade fired a three-point attempt. But Davis rose up to block the shot, causing a rousing cheer that drowned out the halftime buzzer.
The second half brought more of the same. Back-to-back dunks by Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist (off passes from Kidd-Gilchrist and Teague) propelled Kentucky to a 54-35 lead. Arkansas called time with 14:12 left.
Less than 30 seconds later, Jones pounded home a dunk off a lob from Kidd-Gilchrist.
In less than five minutes, Kentucky dunked five times to draw the curtain on the competition and usher in a test of UK's ability to concentrate.
The Cats passed that test.
With 4:24 left, Julysses Nobles drove, pivoted to elude his defender and rose for a floater near the basket. A lurking Davis swatted it into the seats at the sidelines.
As the crowd roared, Arkansas forward Marvell Waithe tapped a reassuring hand on Nobles' shoulder.
"I try not to smile," Davis said of the emphatic block, wiping the trademark deadpan expression from his face. "But my teammates got in my face."