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January 17, 2012
Davis has seven of UK's 13 blocks in win
Anthony Davis.So this is what it's come to for
The freshman forward flirted with a triple-double Tuesday in No. 2 Kentucky's 86-63 win against Arkansas at Rupp Arena, and the performance was met with what amounted to a collective yawn in postgame press conferences.
"I just looked at him and said, 'You played good again' ," UK coach John Calipari said. "(If) you can imagine, he does what he does every game. That's who he is."
Even for Davis, who's making spectacular games routine, Tuesday was something special.
The 6-foot-10 freshman scored a career-high 27 points. He grabbed 14 rebounds. He blocked seven shots to sail past the UK single-season record.
Davis has 89 of them now, in 19 games. He eclipsed the old record of 83 held by Melvin Turpin (in 31 games) and Andre Riddick (in 34).
"I know it's going to be a high record once the season's over," teammate Terrence Jones said.
Gaudy as Davis' numbers were, they didn't drop any postgame jaws. Davis hammered home four dunks and swatted away seven shots. He didn't have a foul or a turnover.
But point guard Marquis Teague said Davis just did "what he do."
"He almost gets a triple-double every night," Teague said. "He dominates."
And he does it with such regularity that not even his opponents are surprised.
"You expect those kind of plays out of guys like him," Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said.
Terrific has become typical for Davis.
And so in some ways, Kentucky (18-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) opened more eyes with other guys in sprinting past Arkansas (13-5, 2-2).
Teague played perhaps his most complete game of the season at point guard, scoring seven points on 2-of-4 shooting, dishing out a season-high nine assists with three turnovers and two steals.
Jones looked a little like the player he was supposed to be prior to his no-show at Indiana and pinky finger injury last month. The sophomore forward had an active line with 13 points, nine assists, five blocked shots and a steal.
As a result of that balance - and of Arkansas' decision to push the pace rather than try to slow down the game - the Wildcats played some of their best basketball of the season.
UK raced out to a 13-2 lead, stretched the margin to 37-21 by halftime and led by as many as 28 points in the second half, cruising to their 46th straight game at home, the 45th in a row at Rupp Arena.
"If we are getting closer to getting (Teague) right, if we are getting closer to getting Terrence Jones right, all of a sudden this thing takes on a little different look to it," Calipari said.
But the closest thing the Cats have to a constant is Davis, whose impact is critical on both ends of the court.
His defensive presence is clear, and it's felt not just in the number of shots he rejects, but in the mind games he plays with his opponents.
"I know they're definitely thinking about it," Davis said. "When they come to the hole and they've got to shoot the ball, it's definitely in their mind, 'OK, where's Anthony Davis?'"
And if they aren't, he makes sure they do.
"I went down (into the paint) one time, he just told his guys, 'Just bring him in here. I'm going to block everything,'" Wade said.
Maybe if he starts blocking literally everything, he'll surprise a few people. For now, it's proving hard to do, even after nights like Tuesday.
In fact, Davis said that his stat-sheet-stuffing is unlikely to impress even his most ardent supporters, many of whom are disappointed he hasn't yet managed a triple double.
"A lot of people get mad at me because I'm very close," Davis said. "My dad even gets mad at me. He always says, 'You're three blocks away, two blocks away. What happened?'"