No. 17 Kentucky 85, MVSU 60
For a moment Saturday night Kentucky freshman Doron Lamb
considered trying to calm coach John Calipari after listening to
him bark at officials even as the 17th-ranked Wildcats stroked a
healthy 26-point lead over Mississippi Valley State late in the
Then Lamb saw the skin on the back of Calipari’s neck turn red
and figured he might as well stay quiet.
”I knew he was going to get ejected, I could tell he wanted to,
he was stepping out on the floor,” Lamb said.
Referee Mike Stuart obliged by hitting Calipari with two quick
technical fouls and sending him to an early exit, one of the few
spirited moments during Kentucky’s otherwise ho-hum 85-60
dismantling of the Delta Devils.
”That’s his prerogative,” Calipari said. ”I coach the game.
He has a whistle. If he wants to throw me out of a game, that’s
what is in his mind.”
Calipari spent the last 6:26 in the locker room, where he said
he took his coat off, propped his feet up, sipped a bottle of water
and thought ”this ain’t so bad.”
By then, the Wildcats (8-2) had things well under control.
Terrence Jones scored 15 of his 19 points and Doron Lamb and
DeAndre Liggins scored 16 points each as Kentucky shook off a
sleepy opening 10 minutes to post its fifth win by at least 20
points this season.
The Wildcats held the Delta Devils (1-9) to 33 percent shooting,
forced 23 turnovers and were hardly challenged over the final 30
”We played OK,” said forward Darius Miller, who had 14 points
and five assists. ”It seemed like at times we weren’t really
focused or intense with the game. We still have to work on playing
the whole 40 minutes.”
The Wildcats didn’t have to against the well-traveled Delta
Devils, who entered the game having already faced Georgia, Butler,
BYU, Mississippi and Arkansas.
Kentucky used a 24-4 run to close the first half to take
control, highlighted by Brandon Knight’s halfcourt heave at the
buzzer to give the Wildcats a 44-24 lead at the break.
”It felt good and it looked on line,” said Knight, who
finished with 14 points.
D’Angelo Jackson led the Delta Devils with 17 points.
Mississippi Valley coach Sean Woods, a member of ”the
Unforgettables” while playing at Kentucky under Rick Pitino in the
early 1990s, received a warm welcome from the Rupp Arena
Woods wished he’d been able to schedule his homecoming earlier
in the year. The youthful Wildcats are starting to play together
following a difficult opening month that included games against
Connecticut, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
”They weren’t this good (a month ago),” Woods said. ”They
weren’t gelling and weren’t getting the dribble-drive. They were
young and trying to figure it out.”
Not so much anymore.
The Wildcats spent the last week splitting time between final
exams and practice. The rustiness showed early, as Mississippi
Valley hung around for the first 10 minutes behind some fearless
shooting and somewhat disinterested Kentucky defense.
The Delta Devils tied the game at 20 on a little hook shot by
Jason Holmes and appeared to have momentum with Jones on the bench
in foul trouble.
Kentucky has struggled at times this year when Jones isn’t on
the floor, but not Saturday. Instead the Wildcats rode the hot hand
of Lamb, who came off the bench to score on a variety of jumpers.
He’s embraced his role as sixth man, knowing it’s his job to give
the Wildcats a boost.
”I just wanted to come off the bench and get aggressive, play
defense, make open shots and create for my teammates,” he
Kentucky honored former coach Joe B. Hall during halftime. Hall
lead the Wildcats to the 1978 national title before retiring
following the 1985 season.
Dozens of former players, including Kenny Walker, Sam Bowie and
Jack Givens, gathered at midcourt to pay tribute to Hall, who
remains a fixture at Rupp Arena and co-hosts a popular sports talk
show with former Louisville coach Denny Crum.
Hall is among the semifinalists for the 2011 class of the
Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor Hall’s players believe he
The group received a rousing ovation while walking off the
floor, one of the loudest of the night until Calipari decided he
wanted to express himself.
He received his first technical for apparently stepping out of
the coaching box while arguing a foul call on center Eloy Vargas
with 6:44 to play. Moments later, he was walking off to a standing
ovation after earning a second technical for continuing to plead
The exchange gave the Wildcats a quick burst of energy and they
quickly finished off the Delta Devils with assistant John Robic
working in place of Calipari.
It was the second ejection of Calipari’s career. The first came
while he coached Massachusetts in 1996. The Minutemen were 26-0 at
the time when they were upset by George Washington.
The stakes weren’t nearly as high this time, though his players
took it as proof that he’s always got their back no matter the
”Coach is watching everything on the court no matter the time
span or what the score is,” Knight said. ”He’s going to be
watching everything and reacting to everything, trying to get us