One down: Cats spank the Vols 76-62

The Kentucky Wildcats opened the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a solid performance, jumping out to an early lead, then sustaining the attack. The Cats dropped the Tennessee Volunteers 76-62. Kelenna Azubuike led the Cats with 18 points, Patrick Sparks chipped in 16 (including 4-9 from three point range). Chuck Hayes added 14 points, and 11 rebounds.

The Kentucky Wildcats opened the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a solid performance, jumping out to an early lead, then sustaining the attack. The Cats dropped the Tennessee Volunteers 76-62. Kelenna Azubuike led the Cats with 18 points, Patrick Sparks chipped in 16 (including 4-9 from three point range). Chuck Hayes added 14 points, and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats have won two straight SEC tournaments and 10 of the past 13, bringing their overall haul to 25 championships , more than the all 11 other schools combined.

``We had a very impressive first half,'' Smith said. ``We got a little complacent in the second half.''

Kentucky entered the tournament ready for action, taking nothing for granted. The Wildcats jumped on the Vols early and coach Buzz Peterson's club never recovered. Azubuike scored 10 of Kentucky's first 13 points, including 2 three pointers.

Sparks, who had been under some fire from fans for playing inconsistently, was on target tonight. He came up with the play of the game on a fastbreak situation, flipping a between-the-legs pass to Rajon Rondo, who swooped in for a dunk.

Kentucky shot 45.8% from the field, just over 30% from three point range, hardly statistics that will leave future opponents quaking in their boots – but it was good enough tonight. C.J. Watson scored 26 points to lead Tennessee.

Kentucky will advance to face probably LSU, which led Auburn by 20 at the half.

The Wildcats sure look like a top seed to Peterson. ``They just have so many weapons,'' he said, "they're going to give any team they face a lot of trouble.

``We love the Georgia Dome,'' Azubuike said. ``It's a shooting gym.''


Be sure to check out our SEC Tournament "blog" with Matt Jones.


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