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Early 3-pointers spark Cats to 83-58 win over Vols

By LARRY VAUGHT

The reboot that Kentucky coach John Calipari has been trying to install certainly looked like it might be taking Tuesday night.

Kentucky made 10 3-point shots in the first half — its high for any half this year — and never gave Tennessee a chance to recover while rolling to a 83-58 victory to avenge a 2-point loss last month in Knoxville.

Maybe it was the new “man bun” that De’Aaron Fox that led to the Re-Do as @TotallyTwitched suggested to me on Twitter after the game.

Whatever it was, the Wildcats did a magnificent job of passing the basketball. They had 17 assists and just six turnovers, and three came in the final five minutes. On one sequence, Willis passed up a 3-point shot and so do Monk, who passed to Fox. He drove, scored and got fouled.

But there was so much to like in the game.

— Not only did Malik Monk score 20 points — his 15th 20-point game of the season — and go 4-for-7 from 3-point range, but he had a season-high eight rebounds after getting a combined four boards in the previous four games and just one in the previous three.

— Derek Willis went 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half and finished with 16 points, three rebounds and one assist. Last season he hit a career-high seven 3-pointers in a win over Tennessee.

— Dominique Hawkins also came off the bench to provide 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.

— Isaiah Briscoe had 12 points, six assists and four rebounds.

— De’Aaron Fox had 13 points, six assists and three rebounds before fouling out. He did not have a turnover in 32 minutes.

— Bam Adebayo had seven points and 12 rebounds, his first double-digit rebounding game since UCLA in early December when he had 13 and only his fourth of the season. His best since then had been nine in two games.

Kentucky finished the game 11-for-25 from 3-point range and 32-for-69 overall. The Vols were only 18 of 52 (34.6 percent) from the field and just 3-for-16 (18.8 percent) from 3-point range.

Kentucky led by as many as 28 points and unlike games against LSU and Alabama last week, the Cats never let up against the Vols.

“They got it going tonight and got done what they wanted to get done,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I am just worry we did not give them a better game. We had too many guys that didn’t do what we expect from them.

“Our key was not to let their 4 (Wilis) score and take those shots. Go back to our game in Knoxville and he had (Wenyen) Gabriel were non-factors. You can tell John has tried to get those guys going and it makes them better. But we were just awful.”

What about the Kentucky ball movement?

“I don’t think they have a problem moving the ball. His teams get better. There is no about offensively they want the 4 (Willis) to get going. We wanted to stop Adebayo but we didn’t want to come off Wilis,” Barnes said.

5 comments

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  1. Cats79

    I wanted to post this before coach Mike gets on this, I really thought the cats played this the most complete game we played since December.

  2. TheProfessor

    YES!!!!

    First time in too long that this team played a complete game. Built 15 point lead through the entire first half, and expanded that to 28 points near the end before mop up time allowed Tennessee to trim 3 points off.

    YES!!!!

  3. Mike

    Cats did look and play much better tonight. They were dialed in and Cal’s reboot starting to show some good results. Defensive intensity looked much better as well. We did miss a lot of easy shots in the 2nd half. Still hard to understand how Wenyen could have a career game 2 games ago and they 2 clunkers. Bam has got to take more than 5 shots when we have a height advantage inside. I think he also had the ball stripped from him 3 times.

  4. TrueBlueJohn

    The refs let them play last night, and it showed. It seemed like three or four minutes between whistles at times.

  5. Larry Pup

    Does my heart good to see the Tennessee Vols destroyed. Great win for the Cats. Many players contributed. They looked like a UK basketball team is supposed to look.

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