LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Between the highlight reel dunks, table
jumping hustle plays and freakish speed in the open court, it can
be easy to forget Kentucky's John Wall is a point guard.
The freshman sensation provided a record-breaking reminder on
Tuesday night against Hartford.
Wall dished out a school-record 16 assists as the third-ranked
Wildcats crushed the Hawks 104-61, a virtuoso performance that even
left coach John Calipari a little stunned.
"He is a pleaser," Calipari said. "He will defer to his
And Wall's coach will defer to his players. When told Wall
needed two assists to break the mark of 15 set by Travis Ford 16
years ago, Calipari sent Wall back into the game and kept running
set plays until the record was his.
"I normally don't do it," Calipari said. "I did it because it
is a game he could have tried to have 30 points but he chose not to
and pass to his teammates."
There were plenty of good looks available. The Wildcats (14-0)
shot 60 percent and made 14 3-points shots while posting their
highest point total of the season.
It was an outburst keyed by Wall. While he's still a novice when
it comes to Kentucky basketball history - he said he didn't know
whose record he broke when asked after the game - Wall knows his
role to is make sure everybody gets involved.
"I just tried to make the easy play," said Wall, who added
nine points and four rebounds.
There were more than enough to go around for Kentucky, which
matched the 14-0 start by the 1977-78 team by burying the
overmatched Hawks early.
Darnell Dodson scored a season-high 19 points for Kentucky while
DeMarcus Cousins posted his third straight double-double with 19
points and 12 rebounds as the Wildcats took advantage of Wall's
"It was easy basketball all night," Cousins said. "I knew
(the assist record) was going to happen. It was just a matter of
time. I'm happy for John and I know the team is happy for him."
Joe Zeglinski led Hartford with 19 points and Milton Burton
added 18, but the Hawks simply couldn't keep up with Wall while
playing their first game in 18 days.
"I thought we got their `A' game and I think a lot of teams
would have lost to Kentucky tonight," Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz
said. "Kentucky is one of the best teams I've seen in all my years
of coaching in terms of talent."
The Wildcats cruised even 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 the Hawks.
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
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.
"I try that in practice all the time," Wall said. "It's just
a little something I'm working on."
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. Wall tied the record on a pass to Josh
Harrellson then broke it when he found Perry Stevenson alone at the
top of the key with 4:45 remaining.
"I told him to shoot it," Wall said. "He said 'What?' and I
just told him to shoot it."
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
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.
Wall led the way. He hit the court several times in the game's
opening minutes and even jumped over two rows of chairs before
landing on top of a table in front of the band in pursuit of a
loose ball. The table broke after Wall jumped off, perhaps the only
real mistake he made all night.
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 even that was debatable. Wall said he was trying to
get control of a rebound when it was knocked loose.
"I think it should have been 16 and 0 (turnovers) but I'll take
it," he said.
No. 3 KENTUCKY 104, HARTFORD 61
Barkers 0-3 0-0 0, Sabia 4-12 4-4 16, Burton 7-14 0-0 18, Torres
1-3 0-0 2, J.Zeglinski 7-16 1-1 19, White 1-4 0-0 2, Erickson 0-0
0-0 0, Z.Zeglinski 0-0 0-0 0, Baker 0-1 0-0 0, Bookman 0-0 0-0 0,
Minor 0-0 0-0 0, Estes 2-2 0-0 4, Brothers 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-58
Cousins 8-10 3-4 19, Patterson 5-8 1-3 11, Miller 6-8 0-0 16,
Harris 2-2 2-3 7, Wall 4-8 0-0 9, Dodson 6-15 1-2 19, Hood 0-1 0-0
0, Krebs 1-3 0-0 3, Stevenson 2-2 1-2 5, Orton 5-6 0-0 10, Liggins
1-2 0-0 3, Harrellson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 41-68 8-14 104.
Halftime-Kentucky 57-31. 3-Point Goals-Hartford 12-29 (Burton
4-8, Sabia 4-8, J.Zeglinski 4-11, Baker 0-1, Brothers 0-1),
Kentucky 14-28 (Dodson 6-10, Miller 4-6, Harris 1-1, Liggins 1-2,
Krebs 1-3, Wall 1-3, Cousins 0-1, Hood 0-1, Patterson 0-1). Fouled
Out-None. Rebounds-Hartford 24 (Sabia 6), Kentucky 41 (Cousins 12).
Assists-Hartford 13 (Sabia, J.Zeglinski 3), Kentucky 30 (Wall 16).
Total Fouls-Hartford 14, Kentucky 7. Technical-Hartford Bench.
A-24,340. 1-9, Frankl
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 104, Hartford 61
Team Records and Series Notes
• Kentucky is 14-0 while Hartford is 2-10.
• Kentucky’s 14-0 start is its best since the 1977-78 squad opened with 14 consecutive wins.
• This is the seventh time in school history that the Wildcats have begun a season with at least 14 straight wins.
• John Calipari is the only coach to begin his Kentucky career with 14 wins in a row. Adolph Rupp opened his UK career by winning his first 10 games in the 1930-31 season.
• This is the eighth time in John Calipari’s collegiate coaching career that he has had a winning streak of at least 14 games.
• This was Kentucky’s first men’s basketball game against Hartford. The Wildcats defeated three other “first-time” opponents this season, Sam Houston State, Cleveland State and Long Beach State.
• The Wildcats are 5-0 against members of the America East Conference.
• Tonight’s attendance is 23,340 the third-highest of the season.
• Kentucky returns to action Saturday, Jan. 2, at home vs. Louisville. The 3:30 p.m. game will be televised by CBS.
• Kentucky used the starting lineup of John Wall, Darius Miller, Ramon Harris, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins for the first time this season.
• It is Harris’ first start of the season, the 54th of his career.
• Eric Bledsoe sat out the game in order to rest an injured ankle. Bledsoe started the first 13 games of the season.
• Kentucky jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Hartford got on the scoreboard at the 17:35 mark. The Wildcats led the game from start to finish.
• UK led by as many as 29 points in the first half at 57-28.
• Kentucky rolled to a 57-31 halftime lead, a season high for points in the opening period. The previous high was 56 against Drexel.
• UK had 19 assists on its 22 baskets in the first half. The assist/turnover ratio is 19/3, the best first half of the season in that category.
• Wall led the passing parade with 11 assists, his third double-figure assist game of the season.
• Cousins had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half.
• UK began the second half with a 14-0 blitzkrieg, increasing the advantage to 71-31, before Hartford got its first points of the half with 15:29 on the clock.
• The Wildcats reached 100 points at the 2:46 mark on a three-pointer by Mark Krebs.
• John Wall got his 16th assist, breaking the UK single-game record, with 4:38 to go on a jumper by Perry Stevenson. The old record was 15 by Travis Ford vs. Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1993.
• Kentucky had a season-high 104 points, the second time this season that the Wildcats have eclipsed the century mark.
• Kentucky shot a season-best 60.3 percent from the field, making 41 of 68 shots. It is the ninth time in 14 games that the Cats have hit at least 50 percent from the field.
• UK made 14 three-pointers, most since sinking 16 treys vs. Tulane in the 2001-02 season.
• UK had a season-high 30 assists and a season-low seven turnovers.
• Once again, UK took advantage of its height, dominating rebounding 41-24 and points in the paint, 46-16.
• UK limited Hartford to 37.9 percent from the field, 22 of 58. It is the ninth time in 14 games that the opponent has made less than 40 percent of its shots.
• DeMarcus Cousins totaled 19 points and 12 rebounds. It is his seventh double-double of the season, his third in a row.
• Darius Miller pumped in a season-high 14 points, including a career-high four three-pointers.
• John Wall notched a school-record 16 assists, breaking the mark of 15 by Travis Ford vs. Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1993. Ironically, Wall’s nine points is the first time all season he has not scored in double figures.
• Darnell Dodson had 19 points, six three-pointers and eight rebounds – all highs for his UK career.
• Daniel Orton’s 10 points is his second time in double figures this season.