Monday was Auburn’s night. The world watched as the Tigers captured another BCS national championship for the SEC.
On Tuesday, Kentucky reminded fans that Auburn is just a football school in a conference where basketball supremacy runs through the Bluegrass.
UK avoided its first losing streak on John Calipari’s watch and pounded Auburn from start to finish, winning 78-54 at home and evening its conference record at 1-1.
Terrence Jones made history for the Wildcats, scoring 35 points, an all-time school record for freshmen, breaking the record of 32 set about 15 days ago by fellow rookie Doron Lamb.
Jones scored in a variety of ways and played a strong all around game, chipping in 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots, despite battling a cold that kept him out of the starting lineup. But after sitting the first five minutes or so, he showed once again that he can be the best player on the floor, any floor, when he’s on his game.
In addition to Jones’ monster performance, UK got a little more subtle but nonetheless outstanding showing from DeAndre Liggins. Liggins managed only 4 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds in 27 minutes. But, as is becoming customary, he turned Auburn’s leading scorer Earnest Ross into a complete non factor. Ross went 0-8 from the field and struggled all night to get any kind of rhythm with Liggins draped all over him.
Not all signs were completely positive for the Cats, however. Despite building a 19 point lead less than half way through the first half, Kentucky never turned the game into a complete blowout, allowing the undermanned Tigers to stay right around 20 points behind for most of the game.
After reeling off seven straight Ws and looking sharp in wins over ranked opponents Notre Dame and Louisville, the Cats haven’t been at their best to start the SEC season.
Brandon Knight had a second consecutive off night, Darius Miller was his typical disappearing self, and the recently hot Josh Harrellson didn’t get his game going until the second half. It’s hard to blame the kids too much, though, what with the Cats hosting the league’s bottom feeder on a frigid January night.
But if Kentucky isn’t playing its best ball right now, at least the timing’s right. Struggling LSU comes to Rupp on Saturday before UK heads to Tuscaloosa next week to meet Alabama, who hasn’t beaten Kentucky in five tries.go back