How good does that sound? Just say it a few times and let it roll off your tongue - "Kentucky 74....Tennessee 45".
When I was growing up in Southern Indiana, we would call that "getting taken to the woodshed". Translation - that was a major butt-kicking by the Kentucky Wildcats over Tennessee.....or as Crystal Ball likes to say, "The Tennessee Department of Corrections". Is this the UK basketball team that fans have waited all year to see?
Eric Bledsoe: Great to see Bledsoe get hot. For a guy who just admitted a little over a month ago that he had lost confidence in his shot, he's obviously worked hard to get his shot back, and it paid off against Tennessee. Bledsoe knocks down 5 of 8 3-pointers to finish with 17 points. This was the Eric Bledsoe that we saw "light it up" against Indiana earlier this season and gave us glimpses of how valuable he can be to this team.
Rebounding: After getting out-rebounded for 5 straight games, it was great to see Kentucky not only beat Tennessee on the boards, but dominate. UK won the battle of the boards - 40-26. DeMarcus Cousins pulled down 15 rebounds and Tennessee big man Wayne Chism was only able to get 3 rebounds. Rebounding takes effort. Kentucky put worth the effort in this one.
Big Cuz: Speaking of Cousins, it was about time to see the big guy have another game where he just lived up to his "beast" reputation. The big man secured his 19th double/double of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds. His 19 double/doubles ties him for fourth on UK's all-time list with Jim Andrews. Kentucky needed him to dominate, and the big guy came through. Nobody should ever be able to push Kentucky around inside. Tennessee is a rough and physical team, but the UK big men refused to let the Vol big men win the battle inside.
3 point shooting: As many have said throughout the season, if Kentucky is able to hit the
outside shot - nobody is going to be able to beat them. Bledsoe hitting 5-8 3's and Darnell Dodson coming off the bench to hit 2-6 3's gives Kentucky another weapon for opponents to try and stop. Kentucky hitting 8 of 22 from downtown against Tennessee was a pleasant sight to see, considering the Cats were coming off a 1-13 performance from 3-point land against Alabama. Also, keep in mind that Kentucky only hit 2-22 from behind the arc last time against Tennessee in Knoxville.
Tennessee: Apparently some lessons are hard to learn. The Volunteers continue to play a brand of "thug basketball" that often results in technicals, fights, and ugly play. The shot Melvin Goins took on Cousins' "family jewels" was obviously a flagrant foul. If Cousins hadn't openly yelled at Goins, the officials may have never checked the video tape to see what Cousins had done. Tennessee is getting the reputation of being an ugly basketball team. Couldn't happen to a more deserving group of guys, especially when they wear that "throw up orange".
Turnovers: Kentucky committed 17 turnovers against Tennessee. Considering the Cats had 14 assists, that can obviously be improved. I think everyone would like to see Kentucky continue to cut down on the turnovers as the tournament moves on.
Big Cuz: OK.....He got a "thumbs up" for his big game against Tennessee, but he's also got to get a "thumbs down" for his 7-17 performance at the free throw line. Cousins started the game 1-7 from the line. Pitiful, pitiful, pitiful.
We'll see you at the SEC championship game. It's hard to believe that the last time UK hoisted the SEC tournament championship trophy, Erik Daniels, Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins were seniors. It's been toooooooooooooo long.