There wasn't much suspense in the game between Kentucky and Drexel at Rupp Arena but the end result was important nonetheless. The Wildcats took care of the Dragons 88-44, picking up the program's 2,000th victory as a result. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson scored eighteen points apiece in the pasting which also moved the third-ranked team in America to 12-0 on the season. John Calipari noted that his group hadn't been a part of many of the victories, stating in the postgame that "we had a job, which was to carry it across this line before the other blue team (North Carolina) got there." (quote courtesy of Kentucky Athletics)
There are teams in sports that their respecitve games need to be a factor and Kentucky Basketball, like North Carolina, Kansas and Duke, is one of those programs in college basketball. To all the great players, coaches and fans a congratulations is in order. The Wildcats are off until January 2nd when they take on bitter rival Louisville. Luckily for Rick Pitino UK took care of the 2,000th win before that game; combining the record with the issues during the summer for the coach would have turned that game into a zoo.
Three Key Happenings
1. UTEP handles Oklahoma. Despite 26 points from Willie Warren the Sooners had no answer for Randy Culpepper, who led all scorers with 27 points as the Miners won 89-74 in the first game of the Sonic All-College Classic in Oklahoma City. The problem for Oklahoma: defense. You can't win games when your opponent posts the following percentages from the field: 57.9% FG and 62.5% 3PT. Too many more games like that and Jeff Capel's team will find itself squarely on the bubble (or worse) come March.
As for the Miners, their scoring balance paid dividends despite the big evening from Culpepper. Christian Polk added seventeen and all five scorers reached double figures, including a double-double (15 and 10) from Derrick Caracter. UTEP was never really challenged, winning the rebounding battle 33-28 while also having an assist/turnover ratio of 2:1. How this win is looked at on the resume come March remains to be seen, but you cannot doubt the Miners' performance.
2. Cornell comes back to knock off St. John's. The Red Storm looked like a safe bet to take home the Aeropostale Holiday Festival title at halftime of the title game, leading Cornell 36-31 thanks to thirteen points from Dwight Hardy. But a not so funny thing happened to St. John's in the second half: they still didn't have an answer for either 7-footer Jeff Foote (19 pts, 11 reb, 5 blk; named MVP of the event) or Jon Jaques (game-high 20 points).
The Red Storm held Ryan Wittman to ten points on 2-8 shooting from the field but they didn't adjust to Cornell's pick and roll game involving Foote. And offensively the Red Storm lacked rhythm in the second half, playing right into the hands of the Cornell defense. The win is the first for head coach Steve Donahue against a Big East opponent, and the two-time Ivy champs showed off why many expect them to win a third consecutive title.
3. South Carolina beats Furman but loses Dominique Archie for the year. Archie was actually injured in their loss to Miami in the Charleston Classic last month but the news many feared became a reality on Monday. The senior will have season-ending knee surgery and the hope around the program is that he will apply for (and likely receive) a sixth year of eligibility. But as it was seen in their loss at Wofford on Saturday the Gamecocks are a different team without him in the lineup. In regards to what their 81-53 win over Furman could mean for the Gamecocks in the future take a look at Brandis Raley-Ross' stat line: 0-3 FG, 2 points in 19 minutes. He's going to have to give Devan Downey and Sam Muldrow (16 points apiece) more help in SEC play if Darrin Horn's team is to be an NCAA Tournament possibility. And keep an eye on Lakeem Jackson, who scored fifteen points tonight. If he can raise his 5.5 ppg average to the 8-10 range it would be a welcome bonus in light of losing Archie.
Top Three Games
1. Arizona 83, Lipscomb 82 (OT) Nic Wise's three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win in Tucson. Wise led the Wildcats with 26 points while the Bisons were led by Adnan Hodzic, who scored a game-high 34 points.
2. Santa Clara 54, Pacific 53 The Broncos came back from a late second half deficit to defeat the Tigers by a point. Marc Trasolini led all scores with seventeen while the Tigers were led by Allen Huddleston's fourteen.
3. Cornell 71, St. John's 66 See above.
Three Notable Performances
1. F Adnan Hodzic (Lipscomb) Hodzic, who should be in the race for Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, scored 34 points while also grabbing thirteen rebounds in the Bisons' heartbreaking loss to Arizona.
2. F Jamine "Greedy" Peterson (Providence) Greedy scored 25 points and grabbed thirteen rebounds in the Friars' 87-78 win over Yale. It should also be noted that Yale's Alex Zampier finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
3. C Jeff Foote (Cornell) Foote helped lead the Big Red to a 71-66 win over St. John's with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.