By LARRY VAUGHT
Hopefully Kentucky was looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown with Florida in Rupp Arena that likely will decide who wins the Southeastern Conference championship.
If not, there’s no explanation for the way UK played Tuesday at Missouri before winning 72-6 against the SEC’s second worst team.
Respected national sportswriter Dick Weiss posted this on Twitter during the first half: “kentucky and missouri are tied at 24 with 6 (minutes) to play in first half. game shouldn’t be this close,” Weiss treated.
He was right. Kentucky had a 26-18 lead when Missouri went on a 10-2 run thanks to UK missing seven of eight shots and not having a field goal for over four minutes. To end the half, UK missed 10 of its last 12 shots but somehow had a 31-30 lead despite having nine turnovers and getting outrebounded.
That probably said as much about Missouri’s overall talent as anything. Even Calipari got miffed when SEC Network reporter Laura Rutledge asked him at halftime what he thought of the Missouri students as they were chanting, “Cal, you suck.” Calipari just walked off.
He wasn’t any happier midway of the second half when he got a technical foul as part of a 6-0 Missouri run in 45 seconds that tied the score at 52-52 with 7:47 to go.
But Bam Adebayo had seven straight points — he finished the game with 22 points, a career-best 15 rebounds and three blocked shots— and took over to help the Cats do just enough to get the win despite having 17 turnovers and just 10 assists.
De’Aaron Fox had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists while Malik Monk managed to continue his streak of scoring in double figures every game with 11 points on only 4-for-12 shooting, three rebounds and three assists.
Isaiah Briscoe had nine points, five rebounds and three assists but he had six turnovers. Adebayo and Monk both had three as did Wenyen Gabriel.
Kentucky and Florida will both take 13-2 SEC records into Saturday’s showdown.