- Monday, November 30 2009 -
(at Louisville, KY)
Kentucky - 94 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 5th by AP and 4th by ESPN/USA Today]
UNC Asheville - 57 (Head Coach: Eddie Biedenbach) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, UNC Asheville 23
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Stanford 73 - 65 OT|||||North Carolina 68 - 66|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Freshmen shine in Freedom Hall blowout
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Like Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral, DeMarcus Cousins had his pistols ready for a gunfight. He and the rest of the Cats could have used a plastic water gun and still been the quickest draw.
Kentucky riddled UNC Asheville with an array of blue bullets, dispatching of the Bulldogs 94-57 in the annual home-away-from-home game in front of 15,368 fans at Freedom Hall. The Cats wasted little time jumping all over UNC-Asheville and coasted to a rousing victory behind Cousins and fellow star freshman John Wall.
The game was marked by a series of perfectly executed alley-oops from Wall, who displayed a passing fancy and finished with 14 assists on the night, one shy of Travis Ford's single-game record of 15, set against Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1993. Cousins was the main benefactor, taking three straight lobs from Wall during a 29-6 run that gave UK a 44-point lead. At the end of one 'and-one' Cousins turned to the Bulldog player who fouled him, pulled two imaginary pistols from his shorts, fired them in the air and yelled, 'Bang! Bang!' To make things better Cousins hit 8-of-10 from the foul line, a welcome sight to coach John Calipari.
"We worked on his free throws a little bit, instead of a full motion we got him to put it under his chin," Calipari said. "These kids respond to coaching. If he makes free throws, shoots 80 percent from the line would you ever just throw the ball at the rim? You pump fake, get fouled and go to the line 15 times. Now he's either dunking on you or getting fouled."
Cousins' sudden channeling of Kyle Macy was just what the doctor ordered for the Cats as they prepared to enter a stretch that includes college basketball heavyweights North Carolina, Connecticut and Indiana in the span of a week. The 6-foot-11 forward tallied 24 points and 10 rebounds - his third career double double - in just 17 minutes as the Cats ran roughshod on Asheville.
"We needed this," Calipari said. "We've been in six wars and hopefully this game built a little confidence."
The Cats did not bury UNC-Asheville the way Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee did earlier this season in a 124-49 victory that saw the Bulldogs manage only two field goals in the first half. Asheville had three against UK just 4:45 into the game but the Cats methodically pulled away in the first half against the out classed Bulldogs.
Wall and Cousins took center stage as the lead swelled with every passing minute in the second half. Darnell Dodson began the Cats' most potent onslaught with a baseline drive before sandwiching a runout around a three-point play by Cousins. That's when the real fun began, as Wall delivered alley-oop passes on three consecutive possessions, then added a fourth seconds after Cousins finished another nifty Wall pass with a dunk. By that point Wall had 12 dimes, well on his way to the UK freshman record he set on the night.
"You know what, he loves it," Calipari said. "He'd rather have that than 22 points. That's how the kid is. What a great leader. He's looking at and seeing what we have on the floor and how we are going to have to play (to win)."
The passing display took a little bit of the focus off Cousins, but the big man's rise in confidence could be critical as the Cats move forward. Calipari even let Cousins take two technical foul free throws in the second half instead of directing a more capable shooter to step to the line.
"After (the Stanford) game I was pretty beat up and the free throws didn't help the matter so this helps a lot," Cousins said. "This is a confidence builder because of the mistakes I made in that game.
"That's what Cal does, he builds you up. That helped me with my confidence."
Like old western outlaws, swagger makes all the difference.
John Wall (#11) and Daniel Orton apply interior defense
Darnell Dodson (#3) drives
Mark Krebs shoots late in the game