Quick start powers No. 1 Kentucky
Wildcats hit first 11 shots of game in rout of Tennessee
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Anthony Davis had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots as top-ranked Kentucky beat Tennessee 69-44 on Tuesday night to extend the Wildcats’ home winning streak to 48 games.
Kentucky (22-1, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) got off to a sizzling start by hitting its first 11 shots over the opening 11 minutes as the Wildcats won their 14th consecutive overall in another dominating performance.
The 6-foot-10 Davis has been the biggest star among the Wildcats’ starting group of three freshmen and two sophomores who expect to play for a national title in a little over two months.
The Volunteers (10-12, 2-5) were led by Renaldo Woolridge, who hit a career-best five 3-pointers and tied his career-high with 17 points.
Kentucky holds the nation’s longest home winning streak and wore platinum gray uniforms instead of their standard white as part of a Nike promotion with eight other programs in men’s and women’s basketball.
The uniforms made it tough at times to pick up who was scoring for the Wildcats. No matter, everyone has pitched in equally this season for a club that features six players averaging 9.9 points or more.
Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and eight rebounds, Terrence Jones scored 11 points and Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague had nine apiece for the Wildcats.
The Vols’ main inside presence, Jeronne Maymon, scored 13 points, but picked up his fourth foul with just over 12 minutes to play. With Maymon gone, Davis feasted down low, blocking his seventh shot of the game when he rotated and swatted Kenny Hall’s attempt.
Davis has an NCAA-best 108 blocked shots this season to help Kentucky lead the nation. He made six consecutive free throws before hitting a 17-footer that gave Kentucky a 57-36 lead with 6:52 left.
He scored the first two baskets of the game, then stepped out and hit another long jumper as Kentucky built a 10-2 lead at the first media timeout.
With just under 14 minutes left, Jones went hard to the basket, scored and drew a foul. With both teams congregated in the paint, pushing and shoving started before officials separated the sides.
Trae Golden and Davis were assessed technical fouls, and Davis drew an offensive foul on Hall on the ensuing possession that fired the Wildcats up even more.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 1 Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44|
|Illinois 42, No. 9 Michigan State 41|
|No. 15 Marquette 66, Seton Hall 59|
|No. 16 Virginia 65, Clemson 61|
|No. 19 Wisconsin 52, Penn State 46|
Kidd-Gilchrist was fouled on the next possession and made both free throws, Teague added another and Kidd-Gilchrist’s layup gave Kentucky a 22-5 lead with 11:39 left in the first half.
Vols freshman Jarnell Stokes picked up his second foul 25 seconds later to go to the bench and Tennessee’s best three players -- Stokes, Maymon and Golden -- watched the rest of the half because of foul trouble.
Darius Miller’s jumper gave Kentucky a 26-8 lead, but he missed a 3-pointer to snap the Wildcats’ perfect start with 8:57 left in the first half.
Woolridge hit consecutive 3-pointers that cut Kentucky’s lead to 32-22 and was 5 for 5 from 3-point range at that point, while his teammates were 3 for 19 from the field.
The Vols never cut the lead to single digits as Kentucky answered with six points in a row and led 38-25 at halftime.
Tennessee is 4-12 all-time against the nation’s top-ranked team including a win against No. 1 Kentucky in 1966. The Vols had won its last two games when facing No. 1, but this group under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin never had a chance after shooting 28.1 percent at aging Rupp Arena.
Earlier Tuesday, a planning committee recommended renovations to the arena and surrounding area beginning in 2015 at a cost of between $250 million to $300 million.
The two-year project would keep Rupp’s official capacity around 23,000, but would add luxury boxes, party suites, chair backs, a modern eight-sided scoreboard and LED ribbon boards around the facility.