Freshman Lamb sets Kentucky record
The last time Doron Lamb couldn't crack the starting lineup, the Kentucky freshman guard was in eighth grade.
The next season, he led his team in scoring, a ''take that'' he still relishes to this day.
Five years later, Lamb again finds himself on the bench during the opening tip. This time, however, he's not complaining.
When he gets on the floor, his role is to provide some scoring punch to Kentucky's thin second unit. On Wednesday against Winthrop, he did it better than any freshman in school history, pouring in a record 32 points in an 89-52 victory.
''It was a big-time game, he didn't miss any shots,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
Well, almost none. Lamb went 11 of 12 from the field, making 7 of 8 3-pointers to break the freshman record of 31 points set by Jamal Mashburn on Feb. 3, 1991, against Georgia. Lamb set the record on a nifty layup that put the Wildcats up 28 with 6:38 remaining before walking off to a standing ovation moments later.
''I didn't even realize I was hitting a lot of 3s,'' Lamb said.
Brandon Knight shook off a left knee contusion to finish with 21 points and five rebounds as the Wildcats (9-2) breezed into the Christmas break with ease.
Matt Morgan led Winthrop (5-7) with 18 points, but the weary Eagles had no answer for Lamb and Knight. Kentucky shot 52 percent to remain undefeated at Rupp Arena under Calipari.
''We got down in a hurry,'' Winthrop coach Randy Peele said. ''We didn't have enough presence defensively on the basketball. For us to come in and win this game, the only chance we had would be if they don't make 3s.''
No such luck on Wednesday. Kentucky made 12 of 22 3-pointers, including 10 of 14 in the first half to take a 19-point lead and spent most of the second half thinking about a much-needed Christmas break.
A game after being ejected for the second time in his coaching career, Calipari kept his cool against the Eagles. Then again, there wasn't much to complain about.
Other than another sloppy performance by freshman forward Terrence Jones - 11 points and six rebounds on 5 of 16 shooting - Kentucky played crisply. The Wildcats turned it over 11 times, including three times in the second half as the lead continued to balloon.
Lamb has blossomed in the role of sixth-man because of the freedom it provides him. His job is to put it up. The way he's playing, however, it may be difficult to keep him out of the starting lineup.
He can score in a variety of ways, though he didn't have to against the Eagles. He spent much of the afternoon standing wide open behind the 3-point line and was only too happy to knock them down. He made his first five and, when Winthrop stepped out to guard him, blew by his defender for a layup.
''The guy is a pro,'' Winthrop forward Charles Corbin said. ''If he's open, he's going to make the shot.''
The rest of the Wildcats were nearly as hot. It took Kentucky less than 5 minutes to build a double-digit lead and had little trouble the rest of the way.
Knight gave Calipari a major scare early in the first half when he collapsed to the ground in pain clutching his left knee after colliding with Jones.
Calipari leaned over Knight and asked him if he twisted anything. When the reply came back 'no,' Calipari went back to coaching while Knight pulled himself up off the floor before hobbling to the locker room.
''The thought wasn't a pleasant one when I was leaning over to ask him,'' he said. ''But after he told me, I was fine.''
It helped that he could turn to Lamb to fill in. Shortly after he hit the floor, Wildcats took off. He knocked down four 3-pointers in less than 4 minutes as Kentucky took a 29-11 lead. Knight, who received an ovation when he returned to the sidelines with only a contusion, led the cheers after the last one before sprinting over to the scorer's table to check back in.
Back on the floor, Knight's knee appeared to be plenty sound. He drew a foul while slicing through the lane shortly after returning to the floor and made both free throws.
''I knew it was fine, I just needed time for it to go away,'' Knight said.
The Wildcats eventually cooled off and Winthrop briefly got back in it, thanks to a 9-0 burst that brought the Eagles within 41-32.
No biggie. Lamb replaced Jones after a timeout and Kentucky scored the last 10 points of the half, the final two on a lay-in by Lamb just before the buzzer that made it 51-32.
''We told our guys that he had a great motor,'' Peele said. ''We told our guys that he could really play. We thought he that he was a tremendous shooter.''
Lamb proved it with a performance for the record books, though Calipari didn't go overboard in his praise. Considering the other freshmen on the team, Calipari isn't convinced the new mark will stand for long.
''I've got three really good freshmen,'' he said. ''One of the other two may break it again.''