Cats Beat Vols 69-44

Contributor: Alex Risen
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Updated: 1/31/2012 11:58 pm
By COLIN FLY
AP Sports Writer
      LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis
understands his teammates rely on his defensive prowess.
      "My teammates always tell me, `I'm going to hold them down,
then you just come over and block their shots.' They really depend
on me to block shots or at least alter shots," he said.
      It's certainly not the only thing they count on him for.
      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.
      "I know I'm going to have to be tough in order for us to win
games," Davis said.
      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 straight 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.
      Coming off a 24-point win at LSU on Saturday, the Wildcats may
finally have ended the overtly physical game plan SEC teams have
tried using against them.
      "We want to be the aggressor," freshman Marquis Teague said.
"We don't want people to come at us and push us around."
      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.
      "We play with a lot of intensity, even when guys come off the
bench," Davis said. "We never miss a beat, we just keep going and
going like Energizer bunnies."
      Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and eight
rebounds, Terrence Jones scored 11 points and Doron Lamb and 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.
      "A guy like that, they come along once in a lifetime,"
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He just changes the game for
you. You can do more things on the perimeter, you can pressure
more, you can push guys in to him and make plays. He is a presence
down there."
      Davis has an NCAA-best 108 blocked shots this season to help
Kentucky lead the nation. He made six straight 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.
      "Coach Cal always wants us to have each other's back, we're not
going to have one guy just getting pushed around," Davis said,
referring to coach John Calipari. "We got into a little scuffling,
argument, but after that, we were just like, `Let's stop talking
and let our game talk."'
      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.
      "We all got pumped up," Teague said after the technical fouls.
"We were ready."
      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.
      "It hurts you a little bit and your confidence," Tennessee
guard Josh Richardson said of Kentucky's start. "They play great
defense and they come out and hit stuff you have never really seen
before."
      Woolridge answered with 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 straight points 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 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 without addressing how to pay
for the improvements.
      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.
      "If that's what they choose to do - rebuild Rupp - I'm fine
because it's good for our city," Calipari said. "Whatever is good
for our university is also good for our city. Again, I'm not in the
middle of it. What do they say? `My name's Bennett, and I ain't in
it,' so I'm good."
     

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