Kentucky Rolls at Rupp, Downs Austin Peay 90-69
Dec. 19, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Patrick Patterson scored 21 points, including nine during a decisive second-half run, and No. 3 Kentucky beat Austin Peay 90-69 on Saturday.
John Wall added 17 points and six assists while DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (11-0), who moved within one victory of becoming the first college basketball program to reach 2,000.
Wesley Channels led the Govs (7-5) with 21 points but Austin Peay couldn't keep up once Patterson got going. The junior forward took control during a 12-0 run midway through the second half that gave Kentucky an 82-61 lead.
The win pushed Kentucky coach John Calipari past Adolph Rupp in the school record book for the best start by a first-year head coach. Rupp won his first 10 games in 1931.
Kentucky will go for its 2,000th win on Monday against Drexel.
The crowd at Rupp Arena was relatively tame.It was part of a comedown Calipari feared after Kentucky's last home appearance, a thrilling, two-point win over North Carolina two weeks ago. The Wildcats followed that up with another squeaker over Connecticut before blowing out Indiana.
The high-profile triumphs started speculation that the Wildcats could run the table. Calipari has done his best to keep his players grounded - telling reporters he thinks his team was "5-5" at best - and for periods the Wildcats looked average against the Govs.
Austin Peay cut a 16-point deficit to 49-43 early in the second half on a play in which even Wall looked human. Wall got tangled up with Austin Peay's Caleb Anthony at midcourt, with Anthony coming out with the ball while Wall writhed on the ground in pain.
Wall rolled on the floor for a couple of anxious moments before limping to the bench. He returned a couple of minutes later, but was sent back to the bench after sustaining a cut over his left eye while driving to the basket. Trainers hastily put a bandage over Wall's eye and he appeared to have no problem with it.
It helped that he could give the ball to Patterson, who has deferred to his younger teammates for much of the season but took over after Austin Peay cut it to 70-61 on a 3-pointer by Caleb Brown.
Patterson started the run with a layup off a nice pass from Daniel Orton, then added the free throw after getting fouled. His two most spectacular points of the day came moments later thanks to a little bit of ad-libbing by Wall.
Eric Bledsoe was leading the Kentucky break when he hit a streaking Wall for what appeared to be an alley-oop. Wall had other ideas, touching the ball to Patterson for a dunk.
Patterson added a tip-in on Kentucky's next possession and Darnell Dodson followed with a 3-pointer to push it to 80-61 before Patterson capped the run with a pair of free throws.
The run followed a ho-hum first half in which the biggest ovation came for seldom-used guard DeAndre Liggins. The sophomore, a major contributor last season under former coach Billy Gillispie, has languished in Calipari's doghouse for much of the season. He sat out the first nine games entirely before making his debut in the final seconds of last week's victory over the Hoosiers.
The crowd stirred when Liggins made his way to the scorer's table 6 minutes in, then roared when he was introduced, perhaps a nod to Liggins' perseverance. Liggins didn't waste any time making an impact. He tipped in Wall's miss to give the Wildcats an 18-11 lead, then had a 3-pointer roll out moments later.
The boost helped Kentucky take a 49-35 halftime lead, and the Wildcats used their size to keep it intact. They outscored Austin Peay 44-16 in the paint, 26-16 on second-chance points and made all 18 free throws.