Cats romp LSU in the Bayou [ SLIDESHOW ]


UK’s DeMarcus Cousins smiles to a crowd member in the game against LSU at Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. Photo by Scott Hannigan

BATON ROUGE, La. — Jet lag may have been the only thing that slowed UK (22-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) down on Saturday afternoon.

The Cats used a 41-8 run to close out the first half and put away any chance for a Louisiana State (9-14, 0-9 SEC) upset. Freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins  paced the Cats yet again, and a meager shooting day by LSU erased any thoughts of a comeback. UK cruised to an 81-55 romp over the Tigers.

“There was a lot of good stuff,” UK head coach John Calipari said of the Cats’ big, first-half run. “There was a lot of post-up basketball, we made plays.”

UK trailed LSU 6-1 at the first TV timeout with 15:42 remaining in the first half. The Cats missed their first six shots of the game, but LSU couldn’t stretch the lead to more than five. The highlights ended there for the Tigers.

The Cats took the lead for good on a free throw by John Wall at the 12:24 mark in the first half. Then, with the score 12-10 in favor of UK, the Cats went on a 22-0 run to push the lead to 34-10.

“It feels great,” Patterson said. “Pretty much, it’s just fun. Everybody was having a lot of fun out there. And we were hoping that we could keep extending the lead, keep playing tough defense and capitalizing on offense.”

Calipari said he wasn’t really confident that his young team would be able to look past LSU’s 0-8 record in conference prior to the game. He thought LSU senior forward Tasmin Mitchell might have a big night against UK like the Devan Downey performance for South Carolina earlier in the season.

But it wasn’t to be. LSU made just four of its last 30 shots in the first half.

LSU head coach Trent Johnson attributed the run not to a lack of effort by his team but more to the size of the Cats.

“It was pure physicality, strength and being better players,” Johnson said.

As has been the case for each of the last six games, Cousins imposed his dominance on the opposing team in limited minutes. In 11 minutes of play in the first half, Cousins scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Cousins has averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in the first half alone during the last five games.

One thing that bothered Calipari during the game was when the officials reviewed a foul issued to Cousins.

“He gets absolutely whacked, racked, pushed, shoved, and then what he does (in response) they go and look at the monitor,” Calipari said. “That’s my thing. If you want to look at the monitor, you’ve got to protect him. Just call every foul. You can’t let him get grabbed, pushed, shoved and then expect no kind of response.”

Cousins said he was just going to keep playing through the hits, and his double-doubles are a product of him simply playing the game and not trying to do too much. Cousins finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes. It was Cousins’ sixth straight double-double. He’s the first Cat to achieve that feat since Chris Mills in 1989.

“Every time I came down the court I got elbowed in the jaw,” Cousins said. “I mean, it’s not even looked at, it’s not even called. So, I mean, I think it’s completely unfair.”

The Cats played a methodical second half, never letting the Tigers within 21 points. Every player checked in for UK, and Louisiana native Perry Stevenson had four rebounds in six minutes.

“There’s a lot of happy guys in there,” said Calipari pointing to the locker room. “I mean, it’s a road win. Anytime you win on the road.

“I don’t care (about) anybody’s record. Winning on the road is difficult. It’s difficult. It’s hard.”