KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -With its rich basketball tradition, Kentucky has had some incredible players come through its program in the last 106 years. None have had a game like Jodie Meeks.
Meeks scored 54 points to break a school record and lead Kentucky to a 90-72 victory over No. 24 Tennessee on Tuesday night.
``To be at the top of the list for the time being is something else because there have been a lot of great, great, great players,'' Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. ``I hope they were all watching tonight and enjoying it. I guarantee they were rooting him on.''
ime loss on Dec. 12.
Meeks surpassed his previous high of 46 points, set Dec. 20 against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left when he hit one of his 10 3-pointers. He set the record with two free throws with 1:31 left.
After the game, he was mobbed by teammates in the middle of the Thompson-Boling Arena court, where the Wildcats (13-4, 2-0 SEC) handed the Volunteers their third loss in January.
Meeks entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring with a 24.2 average.
The 54 points was also the biggest individual SEC performance since Chris Jackson had 55 for LSU against Mississippi in 1989.
Down by 6 at the half, Tennessee (10-5, 1-1) cut Kentucky's lead to 43-41 on a fastbreak basket by Wayne Chism 1:30 into the second half.
But the Vols' spotty defense couldn't contain Meeks, who hit a layup and two 3-pointers to help the Wildcats on a 10-0 run that gave them a 53-41 lead. Meeks was 10-for-15 from 3-point range.
Kentucky stumbled into foul trouble with 9:34 left, and Tennessee sank 11 straight from the free throw line to cut the Wildcats' lead to 71-64 with 6:52 left. But Meeks, who was 14-for-14 from the line, scored nine straight points to put the game away.
``He's a great player and he came out and showed it tonight,'' Chism said.
Tyler Smith led Tennessee with 19 points, Chism had 18 and Bobby Maze added 11.
Tennessee shot a measly 37.9 percent from the field compared to Kentucky's 56.6 percent and hit only six of 23 attempts from behind the arc.
``We tried to deny Jodie Meeks the basketball, but to show how pitiful we were, Meeks did anything he wanted to do,'' Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.
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