"When you are winning, you seem to play with more energy and the team's morale is better," Smith said, "but there were some challenges. They blocked several of our shots, where we worked pretty hard to get the ball into the paint. Those are opportunities missed. You need to get a good shot or draw a foul or come away with something positive."
Senior Patrick Sparks teed off for 25 points the lead Kentucky, on 9-17 shooting. Joe Crawford added 14 points. Rajon Rondo added nine.
"We got some good looks tonight over there zone early on," said Tubby Smith, "Patrick (Sparks) and Joe (Crawford) both knocked down some shots and it got us into a good flow. We have been working really hard in practice and some of that work is paying off."
Kentucky rose to 15-6 for the year (5-2 in the SEC), good for a tie with Florida for 2nd place in the SEC East. Tennessee also won tonight, beating Vanderbilt and holding onto its slim one game lead.
"When Randolph Morris picked up his 4th foul, coach (Smith) went to small lineup," said Patrick Sparks, who shot 5-10 from three point range to go along with four assists, "part of the time we hung in there with five guards. Some of the time we had four. It was a good free throw lineup and we held our own in there pretty good."
The Wildcats broke out of the gate strong, scoring the first eight points of the game. The Bulldogs would come back to tie the game at 8-8 before the Cats steadily built the lead to 38-29 at the half.
"We did a good job of finding the right spots on the floor," Smith said, "they did take advantage of our small size on defense, but they had a tough time handing our small lineup off the dribble."
Kentucky shot 49% from the field, including a season best 13 three pointers in 25 attempts.
The Wildcats travel to Gainesville Saturday to take on the Florida Gators (5-2 SEC) for the right to sole possession of 2nd place and perhaps even better, depending on how Tennessee fairs against Mississippi.