On a night of swiss-cheese three-point defense, Kentucky benefited from its own unstoppable force: freshman big man DeMarcus Cousins.
"I felt I could not be stopped," Cousins said after his 27 points and 18 rebounds powered UK to a 102-92 victory over Sam Houston State Thursday night.
Cousins, the tallest player on the floor at 6-foot-11, acknowledged that his size "helped a lot" against a team that defended with him at times with players four and five inches shorter.
"But I was a lot bigger the other game and had a horrible game," Cousins said. "I came out with a better mind-set."
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With Cousins and Patterson combining for 47 points, UK enjoyed a 48-18 advantage in points from the paint. The greater size also showed in UK rebounding missed free throws five times and converting those into baskets.
"Cousins was a monster inside," Sam Houston State Coach Bob Marlin said. "He really played well."
UK Coach John Calipari agreed.
"How about DeMarcus Cousins?" he said. "My goodness."
But Cousins remained a freshman. He got benched 41 seconds into the second half for failing to execute a called play.
"My job is to hold you accountable, kid," Calipari said he told Cousins.
Vols get Harris
Consensus top 10 prospect Tobias Harris announced that he signed with Tennessee.
Harris, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Glen Head, N.Y., had narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Maryland, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Harris signing on the last day of the week-long November period meant that Kentucky had one signee: wing Stacey Poole, Jr., from Jacksonville, Fla.
The decision by Harris, who attended Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena last month, left four unsigned prospects in Scout.com's top 20. Point guard Brandon Knight (No. 2), point guard Josh Selby (No. 10), power forward C.J. Leslie (No. 12) and power forward Terrence Jones (No. 20). All four players have UK among the final schools they are considering.
Harris is rated in the top 10 of the 2010 class by ESPNU (No. 7), Rivals.com (No. 5) and Scout.com (No. 9).
Rivals. com called Harris the "best scoring four-man in the class."
Earlier this year, Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com likened Harris to former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony. Each was a 6-8 forward with a knack for scoring, the analyst said.
Sam Houston State Coach Bob Marlin considers himself a SEC guy. He's a graduate of Mississippi State and worked three seasons as an Alabama assistant for David Hobbs in the 1990s.
"Kentucky was my scout for those three years," he said.
Marlin scouted Kentucky teams that won national championships in 1996 and 1998, plus another Final Four team in 1997.
UK beat Bama four times in those seasons (that includes one SEC Tournament game).
Marlin declined an invitation to compare the current UK team to those Final Four teams.
"They're definitely headed in the right direction," he said of the Kentucky program this season. "They're just going to get good players. They're just going to get better and better."
Coach wanted Kentucky
Marlin agreed to play in the Cancun Challenge on the condition that Sam Houston State get a game at Kentucky.
"I wanted to take my guys to Rupp Arena," he said, the attraction being "just the atmosphere. The way people appreciate the game. I think it'll be awesome for our guys."