Patrick Patterson scored a career high 33 points and Jodie Meeks continued his three-point barrage while scoring 32 to lead the Cats to their third 100 point game of the season, as they cruised to a 102-58 win over visiting Tennessee State. Tennessee State coach Cy Alexander said, “We need to congratulate the University of Kentucky because they really took it to us tonight."
The Kentucky Wildcats once again began a basketball game with a big run, this one 15-0, and then used the fast start to pace them to victory. It was Kentucky’s thirteenth run of ten or more points this season, and the third consecutive game in which they began the game with a run of ten or more points. Also, for the third consecutive game the Cats reached the first media time out, which comes with the first stoppage in play at the under 16:00 mark, while holding the opposition scoreless.
Jodie Meeks continued his hot shooting outscoring State 27-24 in the first half as the Wildcats cruised to a 57-24 first half lead.
While Meeks, who finished with 32 points, did most of his damage in the first half the game’s high scoring honors went to Patrick Patterson.
Patterson scored a career high 33 points on 15 of 17 from the field, and a perfect three of three from the charity stripe. Patterson also did his share and then a bit more to help the Cats control the boards 49-27 as he snared 11 rebounds.
While Patterson’s damage was done in the paint Meeks did much of his damage from long range, as he hit 8 of 15 three-point attempts; giving him a two-game total of 17 made threes.
Meeks was asked about his prolific scoring over the last two games afterward. The Kentucky guard said, “I am always a guy that doesn't lack any confidence. If I come out of a game after missing a couple of shots, I just go back into the game and keep shooting. I shoot every day, so I am either hitting a lot or missing a lot. A game like this definitely gives you confidence.”
Patterson was asked about the big games he and Meeks had. The forward said, “It's special to share this night with Jodie. We both came out and performed offensively and that's a great feeling. Hopefully, we can continue to use this momentum.”
Meeks discussed how he and Patterson played off of each other. He said, “I think we did a good job of that tonight. I was hitting most of my shots. In the second half, they were kind of keying on me more instead of (Patterson). That kind of opened things up for him and he had a big night tonight also in the second half.”
Meeks and Patterson did not do all of the damage alone.
Perry Stevenson chipped in with 12 points and 7 boards. Michael Porter was once again solid at the point, dishing out 7 assists and only turning the ball over one time. Porter’s play led the Cats to a thirty assist game, while turning the ball over 16 times. The 30 to 16 A/TO ratio put the Cats within one turnover of that magical 2 to 1 ratio coaches love to see.
Freshmen Deandre Liggins and Darius Miller scored seven and five points respectively. Miller chipped in with five assists and Liggins dropped three dimes of his own. Sophomore A.J. Stewart pitched in four points.
Kevin Galloway got the start in place of Ramon Harris, who did not play after taking an elbow to the back on Sunday. The Cats are 4-0 with the starting lineup of Patterson, Stevenson, Meeks, Porter and Galloway.
Galloway discussed his fourth start, following his five-rebound, four-assist performance. “It's a great honor to just be here at UK,” said Galloway. “I'm going through the ropes and working to get better every day. It was a little tough at first, but Coach Gillispie is just trying to get the best out of us and get us to play to our potential. I think I'm more mentally strong and it's easier because I have the right mindset; and Coach motivates us all to get better.”
A three-point field goal by walk-on guard Mark Halsell put the Cats over the century mark for the third time this season. This marks the first time that the Cats have gone over the 100 point mark three times in a season since the 1996-97 season.
When asked about the pace of the game Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie gave a somewhat surprising answer, considering his team has scored more than 90 points in five of its twelve regular season games.
“I think we are playing too slow to be honest with you,” said Gillispie. “I don't think that we have been consistent enough on every single possession. We need to go as hard as we can. Our pace of play stems from how well our big guys run the court. Stevenson ran better tonight than he has ever run in the time that he has been at Kentucky.
“It puts great pressure on the defense,” Gillispie said of the quicker pace. “It makes their guards stay closer to the basket and helps our other guys on the perimeter to get open shots in transition. Those kinds of things are helping Meeks get wide open shots out on the wing. We can get better by becoming more consistent at running the ball and our pace of play. Our big guys have run better than they have all season in the last three or four games.”
The players are embracing the quickened style of play.
When asked if it is easier to push the ball Porter replied, “Yeah, it is a lot easier for me when I push it. It is just more the way I want to play and it's a lot easier for me. I can kind of free myself from my defender. I am not really just a one-on-one guy, so I do like pushing the ball. I have done that all of my life. It is really natural. I definitely feel more comfortable. There is still a lot I need to work on.”
When asked if he feels the team is getting more comfortable playing at the faster pace Porter said, “I think so. We're getting a lot better at doing that but I think there is still room for us to play faster.”
Meeks said, “Our main focus once we get a rebound is to get out and run. Our big guys did a great job of that tonight. I thought it opened up some things for me coming down on the break.”
Gillispie has at least one player on the squad that agrees with him on the team being able to play at an even quicker pace. Patterson told reporters, “I think we can play a lot faster. If the guards continue to push the ball in transition and the big men keep running in transition. We can get a lot better on defense and we can be stronger on the offensive end, as well.”
For the game the Cats hit 10-25 from behind the arc, after starting the game 2 for 8. The team hit 40 of its 72 FG attempts and was 12 of 13 from the FT line. The team has now hit 31 of its last 33 FT attempts, which is a 94% clip.
Players will be off the next two days, but will return to the practice floor late Christmas day to prepare for Saturday’s game with Florida Atlantic at 3:00 pm ET in Rupp Arena.