It’s no secret that Jodie Meeks has been having a breakout year. Kentucky’s junior shooting guard was averaging 24. 2 points per game entering Tuesday night’s showdown against SEC favorite Tennessee, and was fifth in the country in scoring. With a number of long, rangy, athletic wingmen, the Vols figured to give Meeks some trouble in getting his shot off.
Instead, Meeks dominated the Vols from start to finish, dropping a school-record 54 points on a school-record 10 three-pointers. Overall, Meeks was 15-22 from the field, 10-15 from three-point range, and 14-14 from the foul line. Meeks broke the single game mark of Dan Issel, who scored 53 points against Mississippi 39 years ago, also breaking the school record of nine three-pointers held by Tony Delk (and also by Meeks, who drained nine against Appalachian State earlier this season). For good measure, as if torching the nets weren’t enough, Meeks also added eight rebounds, four assists and a steal as UK smoked the Vols 90-72..
In a nationally-televised game on the road, Meeks quickly leapfrogged into the National Player of the Year discussion with his epic performance.
We caught up with Jodie’s dad, Orestes, to get his thoughts on his son’s record-setting night.
CHN: What was going through your mind as you watched Jodie? At what point did you start thinking he may break the single game scoring record?
Orestes Meeks: I really didn't know anything about the record. I was focusing on us winning the game. The clock could not move fast enough. The last six minutes seemed to take like 20 minutes!
CHN: What does it feel like to know that Jodie now holds multiple records at the winningest college basketball program in history, and to know that his name will forever be in the record books?
OM: I think it is surreal. He has managed to come back from the injury last year, and now is playing more like we expected all along. We really don't spend much time thinking of records, but more about “how can this team go to a Final Four? How can this team win games?”
CHN: How did you keep Jodie's spirits up last year when he was battling numerous injuries? Did he ever get down on himself or grow frustrated?
OM: It was very frustrating to him and to our family. Yes he did get pretty down sometimes. He really had to rely on his faith and his family to pull through it.
CHN: Did you or Jodie ever expect a breakout season of this magnitude?
OM: Absolutely! We knew he could play. It has been a matter of just getting the opportunity.
CHN: ESPN’s Brad Nessler said Jodie should be included in National Player of the Year talks now. In your opinion, is Jodie the National Player of the Year so far?
OM: I’m not really looking at that either. That will be decided by the same sports people that have doubted him his whole career. I think his focus is and has to be, how can we win games? What is our path to winning games?
CHN What was it like watching Jodie get mobbed by his teammates last night at the buzzer, clearly showing the respect and love they have for him?
OM: That was really special. That really showed they were a team and not a collection of individuals. His teammates, rightfully, felt the team accomplished a good quality win. I loved it!