- Saturday, January 23 2010 -
Arkansas - 70 (Head Coach: John Pelphrey) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 101 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 2nd by AP and 2nd by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 57, Arkansas 27
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|Auburn 72 - 67|||||South Carolina 62 - 68|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats cook Hogs, likely to be No. 1
Seven long years after the Kentucky basketball team last tasted the feeling of being ranked No. 1 in the nation the flavor will return.
The Cats (19-0, 4-0 SEC) will ascend to the top of the national polls in style after decimating Arkansas 101-70 in front of 24,356 festive fans at Rupp Arena. Every player on the roster but Mark Krebs scored as UK trounced former Cat John Pelphrey's team and reached the 100-point mark for the second time this season.
The rout was on from the outset as UK raced to a 26-7 lead in the first nine minutes, stretched it to 80-34 early in the second half and then cruised to the blowout. Fans began chanting 'No. 1! No. 1!' as the final seconds ticked off the clock, yet another milestone moment in this throwback season.
"I asked them after, 'Are we this good? If we're this good this is going to be fun boys,'" UK coach John Calipari said. "Arkansas hit a buzz saw, we would have done this to 360 teams."
It looks like Calipari can make that phone call he's been talking about if UK is going to play with the amount of focus and intensity it threw at the shell-shocked Razorbacks. The UK coach has spent the past two weeks talking about a mysterious friend on the East Coast who has implored Calipari to give him a ring if the Cats were ever going to put 40 minutes together in one game.
Except for a five-minute stretch in the second half after UK had pushed the advantage to 46 points the Cats came as close to firing on all cylinders for the entire game as they have all season. Instead of leaving Arkansas with any hope the Cats finished the first half on a 7-0 run that made it 57-27 at the break then scored the first 12 points of the second half to slam the door shut.
"It was 23 and then it ends up being 30 at half," Calipari said. "That's what we've got to do because if it goes from 23 to 16 they thing they've got a chance, which is what we've done 10 times this year. When it went to 30 they knew they had no chance. It was pretty good for 40 minutes."
"We knew we had a big lead so we were like 'Do not let up!' because in the past we've let up," freshman guard John Wall added. "If you let guys like Courtney Fortson and Rotnei Clarke get going the lead can get down to six quick, so we wanted to keep it going. We came out with a chip on our shoulder to play 40 minutes of defense."
Arkansas, which had scared Texas and Mississippi State in recent weeks, was overwhelmed from the beginning. By the time Pelphrey called a timeout 108 seconds into the contest the only battle Arkansas had won was getting DeMarcus Cousins off the floor, and that was only because Fortson accidentally caught UK's big man with an elbow that knocked out one of his front teeth.
"We wanted to survive," Pelphrey said. "I understand what that's all about (in Rupp Arena). We got punched pretty quickly. Being down 30 was not part of the game plan. We didn't have anything prepared for that."
It's unlikely anyone does if UK makes the kind of effort it had against the Hogs a habit.
"They got our best," Wall said.
Time for Calipari to make that call.
Darius Miller guards Arkansas' Courtney Fortson while Eric Bledsoe (#24) looks on
John Wall runs into Stef Welsh on the way to the hoop
DeAndre Liggins tracks down the ball