The Kentucky Wildcats (21-1, 6-1) took care of business tonight in Rupp Arena, defeating a game Ole Miss Rebel squad 85-75. The Rebels (16-6, 4-4) are to be congratulated after having about 10 minutes to prepare for the 'Cats, due to having played at home on Sunday against Arkansas. They stayed within striking distance of the 'Cats for most of the evening, and performed up to their top-25 ranking.
The 'Cats, meanwhile, played a mostly solid game, with a dose of amazing plays, countered by a few sprinkles of careless possessions. The team still seems to become overly comfortable with a double-digit lead, but on this night, when coach John Calipari went to the whip, his blue-blooded thoroughbreds responded.
For a look at the individual highs and lows of the contest, follow me after the jump:
Once again DeMarcus Cousins meant business. UK's man for all seasons contributed 18 points,13 rebounds, nine offensive boards, and four blocks. Cousins posted his fifth straight double-double, ninth in his last eleven games, and thirteenth overall. The superlatives are beginning to run dry when attempting to describe his play.
John Wall, as many expected, had a very solid ball game. He ran the team as efficiently as he ever has, distributing the rock to the hot hand (Darnell Dodson), and feeding the post with aplomb. Wall ended the game with 17 points on 6-10 shooting (2-3 three-pointers), seven assists, and four turnovers.
Darnell Dodson, starting once again (his second starting nod in a row), proved his worth by having the white-hot hand from long-range; 4-5 three-pointers, and one assist, in only 16 minutes of action. He finished the game with 14 points, and some solid interior defense to his credit. Dodson has made 16 of his last 35 three-point attempts (45.7%), over a span of six games. Folks, when he's making shots, UK is very hard to beat.
Patrick Patterson played possibly his best game in the last few weeks. While playing 31 minutes, the big man scored 12 points (1-1 three-pointers), made all three of this free throws, and snagged four offensive rebounds; six boards overall. Patterson was clearly more aggressive on the blocks, both defensively and offensively. Certainly a good sign that Patterson is becoming more comfortable in his newfound role of inside/outside contributor.
The most spectacular play of the evening was perpetrated by one Eric Bledsoe -- On a John Wall alley-oop pass, (that was tipped by an Ole Miss defender), Bledsoe grabbed the errant pill, while turning in the air, and flipped the ball, with his back to the basket, off the backboard and into the twine. Both, great athleticism and body control, on display on that one play. Bledsoe finished the game with eight points (4-10 shooting), and eight big assists (and seven turnovers), to go along with a team-leading four steals. He, at times, put a bit too much mustard on his passes, and he tried to force the issue at times, but when he's intent on running the break flawlessly, that's what he does.
Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins both contributed mightily to the UK cause -- Orton played tremendous interior defense (no blocks, but several altered shots), and grabbed five rebounds in only 16 minutes of action. Orton was a perfect 2-2 from the field, finishing with 4 points. Liggins was his usual aggressive, hustling self. Playing 17 minutes, he snagged five rebounds, and scored five points, making his only three-point attempt. Liggins is becoming a defensive dynamo, taking over the helm from Ramon Harris, due to his solid ball-handling, and ability to score.
In only nine minutes of action, Darius Miller played well, and asserted himself more aggressively than has been the norm. He finished with five points, one assist and one turnover. Miller is losing PT to Dodson and Liggins, but in the floor time he had against the Rebels, I thought he was a more confident looking player.
For Ole Miss, guards Terrico White (19 points) and Chris Warren (15 points) combined to make 6-13 three-pointers (46.2%), which kept the Rebs just close enough to keep the game interesting. The off guard, Eniel Polynice, pitched in with 14 points on 6-12 shooting.
As a team, UK shot the ball well, making 31 of 62 shots (50.0%), and 9-19 threes (47.4%). The 'Cats did lose the points off turnover category, 26-17, as well as second chance points battle (18-12). UK ended the game with 17 TO's, but committed 11 of those miscues in the first 13 minutes of the game.
That's it for now,
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!