On Saturday, it was De'Aaron Fox's time to raise the bar. The freshman point guard from Texas pumped in 27 points to help the No. 6 Wildcats pull away in the second half for a 97-71 win over Arkansas.
"De'Aaron Fox is ridiculous," UK head coach John Calipari said. "He's been doing extra work. He's been coming to practice early, not by choice, and he has really been working and it showed in the game. I said to the guys, What do you want to say to him? Do this every night, man. Play this way. This is who you are."
Fox credited the extra practice time during "Camp Cal" -- the annual holiday break where UK often practices up to three times a day -- for his big performance.
"I have been in the gym a lot more," he said. "I started making free throws again. I was efficient today and I think it was due to me practicing more. There is a lot of conditioning in those workouts, so today I was never tired and I think it showed."
After Malik Monk's 34 points in the SEC opener at Ole Miss, it marks the first time in UK's storied basketball history that two different freshmen have scored 27 or more points in a league game.
Kentucky (13-2, 3-0 SEC) also got double-figure scoring from four others, including 15 apiece from Derek Willis and Isaiah Briscoe, 12 from Monk and 11 from Bam Adebayo. The Cats shot 52.5 percent from the floor while holding the Razorbacks to a 40.3 shooting night.
It marked the 10th time this season that the Cats have shot 50 percent or better and the 11th time in 15 games they've topped 90 points despite Arkansas native Monk being held to 10 points under his season average.
“People want to talk about Monk," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "(But) Adebeyo, what about him? Briscoe, in the second half, I thought he was better. Like I said, Willis. Monk is a big part of it, so you pay attention to him and that’s part of the strategy. I don’t think people understand that. You pick on him and then other guys might get off.”
The Razorbacks kept it competitive for more than 25 minutes of play. Kentucky's first double-digit lead came on an Adebayo dunk and free throw with 14:29 remaining in the second half. From there, foul trouble mounted for the visitors and the Cats gradually pulled away for a deceptive romp.
"I'm just worried about seeing how good can we get?" said Calipari when suggested the Cats may be head and shoulders above the league competition. "How good can we be? And we're not there yet, I can tell you."
Arkansas (12-3, 1-2 SEC) got 15 points from Daryl Macon and 14 apiece from Moses Kingsley and Jaylen Barford.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the game...
WHAT WE LIKED:
Kentucky looked out of sync in the first half, playing well behind its season scoring pace, but still managed to finish the game with 97 points. The Cats did so by constantly attacking the Arkansas defense, getting themselves to the free-throw line a season-high 40 times and converting 28 of them for a 70-percent night. The UK backcourt of Fox, Monk and Briscoe combined to go 18-of-22 from the charity stripe.
De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky -- The talented Texan went 10-for-16 from the floor and 7-of-7 at the free-throw line. He also chipped in with six rebounds and six assists. His previous top scoring output was 24 in UK's win over North Carolina.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 - Turnover by UK over the final 19:44 after eight in the first 20:16.
1st - Double-figure scoring night for Willis since posting 12 on Dec. 7 against Valparaiso.
+13 - Rebounding edge for UK, including a game-high eight for Briscoe.
24-4 - The Cats' advantage in fast-break points.
13:56 - Time Arkansas went between the end of first half and late in the second half without a scoring run of any kind.
24,322 - Attendance at Rupp Arena.
"We won't back down. Nobody's going to punk us." -- UK center Bam Adebayo on the physical, often chippy battle with the Razorbacks.
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at Vanderbilt in a 7 p.m. ET tipoff on ESPN. The Commodores (8-7, 2-1 SEC) lost 59-56 on Saturday night at Alabama.