Jan. 13, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Jodie Meeks scored a school-record 54 points to help Kentucky cruise to a 90-72 win over No. 24 Tennessee on Tuesday night.
Meeks, who broke Dan Issel's 39-year-old record of 53 points set at Mississippi, was mobbed by his Kentucky teammates in the middle of the Thompson-Boling Arena court, where the Wildcats (13-4, 2-0 SEC) handed the Volunteers their third loss in January.
The Southeastern Conference's leading scorer surpassed his previous high of 46 points, which he set Dec. 20 against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left as he hit an open 3, one of 10 3-pointers he would make for the night. He set the record on free throws with 1:31 left.
Down by 6 at the half, Tennessee (10-5, 1-1) cut Kentucky's lead to 43-41 on a fastbreak basket by Wayne Chism a minute and a half into the second half.
But the Vols' spotty defense couldn't contain Meeks, who hit a layup and two 3-pointers to help the Wildcats on a 10-0 run that gave them a 53-41 lead. Even contested shots sank perfectly through the nets.
Kentucky began stumbling into foul trouble with 9:34 left, and Tennessee -- which to that point had shot 35 percent from the free-throw line -- sank 11 straight bonus shots to cut the Wildcats' lead to 71-64 with 6:52 left.
But Meeks, who also went a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line, scored nine straight points to put the game away. No other Kentucky player scored in double figures. Patrick Patterson grabbed 12 rebounds.
With two 3-pointers and a fast break layup by Meeks, Kentucky used a 12-0 run to grab a 28-20 lead with 7:27 in the first half. Meeks had 26 points in the first half, including going 5-for-7 from behind the arc.
Tennessee couldn't capitalize on several easy opportunities under the basket in the first half, and the Wildcats pushed their lead up to 39-28 with 2:37 left before halftime.
J.P. Prince stole the ball from Kevin Galloway, drove it to the basket and kicked it out to Smith, who sank a 3 with 15 seconds to cut the Wildcats' lead to 41-37 before the break.