- Saturday, March 13 2010 -
SEC Tournament (at Nashville, TN)
Kentucky - 74 (Head Coach: John Calipari) - [Ranked 2nd by AP and 2nd by ESPN/USA Today]
Tennessee - 45 (Head Coach: Bruce Pearl) - [Ranked 15th by AP and 13th by ESPN/USA Today]
|J.P. Prince (*)||30||2||5||0||1||2||4||1||1||2||4||4||2||0||5||6|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 32, Tennessee 19
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alabama 73 - 67|||||Mississippi State 75 - 74 OT|
Game Writeup - Written by Darrell Bird; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK uses 27-4 run to blow out Vols
NASHVILLE, Tenn. Prior to Saturday afternoon's SEC Tournament semifinal between rivals Kentucky and Tennessee, Patrick Patterson predicted the game would be "emotional and a lot of fun."
In the minutes following UK's shocking 74-45 blowout, which featured four technical fouls, Patterson had to adjust his thinking.
"That was an understatement," Patterson said. "It was extremely emotional with people getting into it back and forth. Technicals. People talking. Very physical. It was just crazy out there today."
Tennessee entered the game as the final team to defeat Kentucky, a 74-65 upset in Knoxville on Feb. 27, and some Volunteers had even predicted a win in the tournament semifinals.
"They tried to do a bunch of things, all the technicals, the elbow or punch. I guess they tried to get in our heads and frustrate us but the freshmen handled it with great poise," Patterson said.
"We understand that whoever wanted it more, the team that was more physical, the one that wouldn't back down from a punch in the mouth, the one that wouldn't take a step back ? we understood that whoever didn't do any of that would be the one to get the win."
Kentucky managed to build a 13-point halftime lead, but the Tennessee run that was inevitable came with just under 10 minutes to go as the Volunteers made it a six-point game at 45-39. Little did anyone know that would also mark the launching point for a devastating Kentucky run to win the game by 29 points.
When the dust had settled, Kentucky outscored Tennessee 27-4 over an eight-minute span in one of the greatest offensive explosions of the season for the No. 2-ranked Cats. Darnell Dodson scored eight points in the run, six coming on three-pointers. Eric Bledsoe added six points, both on three-pointers.
"Whenever we're hitting threes, it's extremely hard for us to get beat," Patterson said. "You've got DeMarcus inside and the perimeter players hitting threes. When you take away one, it's hard to stop the other."
Kentucky finished by hitting 25-of-48 field goals, including 8-off-22 from three-point range. The Cats also dominated the rebounding 44-29.
"We wanted to pretty much dominate the game," Patterson said. "We understood that they were going to play tough and physical. We knew it would be an extremely hard game, but we wanted to come out with a lot of passion and energy and prove who is the better team.
"I figured it would go down to the last shot, an extremely close game," Patterson added. "But we got great overall play. This is probably the best we've played as far as defensive, rebounding, scoring the ball. I pretty much think we did it all today."
To be certain, the game featured everything, including four technical fouls.
Tennessee's Wayne Chism and UK's Daniel Orton were T'd up with 8:31 to go in the middle of the Cats' game-clinching run.
"I didn't even realize he had a technical at first," Orton said of Chism. "Nothing really happened. I think he pushed me and I pushed him back. Then he tried to get in my face so I said a few words to him and he said something back. That's when he got the technical. I didn't even get a technical until later."
At 3:33, two additional technical fouls were assessed against Melvin Goins and UK's DeMarcus Cousins. Goins was then ejected for a flagrant technical for a forearm to Cousins during a screen at midcourt. Cousins, who was only 3-of-13 on the day, made both technical free throws.
"I didn't understand that play," Cousins said of the cheap shot. "That was pretty hard. I've been hit before but I don't think anything like that. I really don't know what that was about."
The ejection was a bit extreme, but Kentucky players fully expected there would be technical fouls called when the two rivals met with an SEC Tournament championship berth at stake.
"There is always a technical when you play Tennessee. I would bet that every team that has played Tennessee has gotten a technical," Patterson said. "It's always going to happen because it's just that type of a game, extremely emotional.
"We all talk," he added. "They talk and we talk back. We're not going to let them talk and then not say anything back.
The victory puts Kentucky into the SEC Tournament championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday against Mississippi State, a 62-52 winner over Vanderbilt.
"It would be great to add another one for Kentucky and to add one for ourselves," Patterson said of a tourney title. "We have an opportunity to get ours."
Eric Bledsoe slices between Tennessee's Wayne Chism and Brian Williams
The UT defense parts to allow John Wall an empty lane to the basket
DeMarcus Cousins blocks a dunk attempt by J.P. Prince (but is called for foul)