Kentucky forced Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson into missing a dozen shots as the Wildcats rolled, 84-70.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is how thoroughly it appeared that Kentucky was going to dominate Mississippi Tuesday night during the Wildcats' 84-70 victory in Oxford:
I started writing this story five minutes into the first half. For 35 minutes of the game, I never worried about having to change the tone. The ending got mildly interesting. The Rebels cut a 22-point lead to six in the final two minutes.
But by then, I suspect much of the ESPN TV audience had already fled. No real reason to suspect an upset was possible. The Wildcats eased out to a 14-point victory – continuing their record of not losing consecutive games. Kentucky is also the first SEC road team to win in Oxford this season.
"We were terrific today," UK coach John Calipari said on his post-game radio show on the UK/IMG sports network. "We defended better. We rebounded better. I thought we had good ball movement. We created good shots for each other ... They're growing into the kind of team I want to coach. You lose, you get angry ... You come together and you play better."
No real worries.
Not on a night when UK reserve Jarrod Polson finished the first half with as many field goals as Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, the fourth-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference.
Brick, brick, brick.
Each guy made one shot in the first half – and Henderson took six shots, Polson only one. Things got so bad in the second half that when Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy pulled his star for the first time it appeared that he didn't look at Henderson as he made his way to the bench.
Henderson went nearly 22 ½ minutes between his first and second field goals. He finished with 18 points, but it was a horribly inefficient 18 points because Henderson missed a dozen of 17 shots.
I can't steal the best line that Brad Nessler delivered on ESPN in the final two minutes: Henderson scores more points when it doesn't matter than anybody else around.
Can't argue. Won't argue. I'd take Tim Henderson of Louisville on my team over Marshall Henderson every night of the week.
Five different Kentucky players drilled three-point shots in the first 20 minutes as the Wildcats made 6 of 13 from behind the line. When Kentucky shoots like that the Wildcats are going to beat most teams.
Julius Randle led UK with 25 points and 13 boards. Andrew Harrison scored 17 and James Young had 16.
Not that Calipari didn't have anything to stomp about during his players' performance. He certainly did. The Wildcats turned the ball over 19 times. Calipari railed at Young, Randle and the Harrison twins for assorted sins, like not getting back on defense, body language and sloppy passes.
Kentucky was very good in the first half and the Wildcats were as good as they needed to be in the second half. Their first possession in the second half lasted nearly 90 seconds.
This is how bad it got for Ole Miss: According to ESPN, Kennedy told his players at halftime they needed to earn their scholarships and his goal was for the Rebels to make it a game.
Nobody had to work harder in the second half than ESPN commentators Nessler and Jimmy Dykes. They tried everything to retain their audience.
They argued that Tennessee and Missouri deserved to join Kentucky and Florida as SEC teams that have earned their way into the NCAA Tournament.
They went through a brief comparison between this Kentucky team and Michigan's Fab Five.
They showed pictures of former Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning sitting on the baseline, trying to teach his daughter when to clap.
Dykes talked about who should be Coach of the Year (Gregg Marshall of Wichita State) and well as the best two-guard in the nation (Jabari Brown of Missouri).
Up next for Kentucky? The Wildcats have their first chance at a revenge game this season. On Saturday, Kentucky plays host to Louisiana State. The Tigers defeated UK in Baton Rouge, 87-82, on Jan. 28.
"They beat us," Calipari said. "Our kids know. They were so much better than us on that night. Hopefully, we'll play a little bit better than we did down there."