No. 3 UK crushes Hartford with Wall’s assistance

Freshman point guard John Wall set a school record with 16 assists

and No. 3 Kentucky crushed Hartford 104-61 on Tuesday night.

Wall added nine points and four rebounds as the Wildcats

(14-0) matched their best start in 32 seasons.

Wall broke the record of 15 assists, set by Travis Ford

against Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1993, on a pass to Perry

Stevenson that put Kentucky up 97-56.

The Wildcats shot 60 percent from the field and made 14

3-pointers.

Darnell Dodson scored a season-high 19 points for Kentucky

while DeMarcus Cousins posted his third straight double-double with

19 points and 12 boards.

Joe Zeglinski led Hartford (2-10) with 19 points and Milton

Burton added 18.

The Wildcats played without guard Eric Bledsoe, who is

nursing an injured left ankle. He is expected to be available on

Saturday when Kentucky plays archrival Louisville.

The Wildcats hardly needed him against Hartford.

The Hawks, who hadn’t played in 18 days, were simply

overmatched from the opening tip and spent most of the game as

bystanders as Wall went to work.

Kentucky scored the game’s first eight points and needed less

than 4 minutes to build a double-digit lead.

Hartford managed to hang around briefly before Kentucky hit

the gas pedal with a dizzying 18-2 run that featured plenty of

highlight-ready plays.

Cousins started the run with a dunk off an alley-oop from

Wall. Dodson followed with a 3-pointer and after Cousins hit two

free throws things really got out of hand. Kentucky’s next four

field goals all came on dunks, three of them on alley-oops.

The most spectacular came courtesy of Wall, who took a feed

from Ramon Harris, plucked the ball out of midair and twisted his

body for a reverse dunk that brought the sellout crowd to his feet.

Kentucky roared to the half up 57-31 and the only drama over

the final 20 minutes was Wall’s pursuit of the assist record.

He didn’t disappoint. He drew within one before Kentucky

coach John Calipari took him out with about 12 minutes to go. He

returned with 7:53 remaining, tied Ford’s record on a basket by

Josh Harrellson then broke it a few moments later when he found

Stevenson at the top of the key.

The crowd erupted as Stevenson’s jumper splashed through the

net. Wall received a standing ovation as he made his way to the

bench at the next timeout while the student section chanted his

name.

Calipari said the Wildcats wouldn’t get caught looking ahead

to their showdown with the Cardinals, and Kentucky looked focused

throughout following a somewhat lethargic effort in a win over Long

Beach State last week.

The Wildcats outscored Hartford in the paint 46-16,

outrebounded the Hawks 41-24 and held a 12-0 edge in fastbreak

points.

Though Wall has dominated at times this season, he hasn’t

been perfect. He entered the game averaging 6.8 assists per game,

tops in the Southeastern Conference and second in the nation. But

he also was averaging 4.3 turnovers.

The miscues disappeared against the Hawks. Wall gave it away

just once and looked in total control while guiding the Wildcats to

their highest point total of the season.