KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - With its rich basketball tradition,
Kentucky has had some incredible players come through its program
in the last 106 years. None have had a game like Jodie Meeks.
Meeks scored 54 points to break a school record and lead
Kentucky to a 90-72 victory over No. 24 Tennessee on Tuesday night.
"To be at the top of the list for the time being is something
else because there have been a lot of great, great, great
players," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. "I hope they were
all watching tonight and enjoying it. I guarantee they were rooting
Meeks broke Dan Issel's 39-year-old record of 53 points set at
Mississippi. The Southeastern Conference's leading scorer was only
the second player this season to surpass the 50-point mark,
according to STATS. North Dakota State's Ben Woodside had 60
against Stephen F. Austin in a triple overtime loss on Dec. 12.
Meeks surpassed his previous high of 46 points, set Dec. 20
against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left when he hit one of his 10
3-pointers. He set the record with two free throws with 1:31 left.
After the game, he was mobbed by 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.
Meeks entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring
with a 24.2 average.
The 54 points was also the biggest individual SEC performance
since Chris Jackson had 55 for LSU against Mississippi in 1989.
Down by 4 at the half, Tennessee (10-5, 1-1) cut Kentucky's lead
to 43-41 on a fastbreak basket by Wayne Chism 1:30 into the second
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. Meeks was 10-for-15 from 3-point range.
Kentucky stumbled into foul trouble with 9:34 left, and
Tennessee sank 11 straight from the free throw line to cut the
Wildcats' lead to 71-64 with 6:52 left. But Meeks, who was
14-for-14 from the line, scored nine straight points to put the
"He's a great player and he came out and showed it tonight,"
Tyler Smith led Tennessee with 19 points, Chism had 18 and Bobby
Maze added 11.
Tennessee shot a measly 37.9 percent from the field compared to
Kentucky's 56.6 percent and hit only six of 23 attempts from behind
"We tried to deny Jodie Meeks the basketball, but to show how
pitiful we were, Meeks did anything he wanted to do," Tennessee
coach Bruce Pearl said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)