No. 3 Kentucky beats Hartford 104-61 behind Wall


AP Sports Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) 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.

Updated December 29, 2009