Beast play:Cousins leads UK to 85-72 win over Commodores

Freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins fights for the ball during the second half of the game against Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena on Saturday. Photo by Zach Brake

UK head coach John Calipari had a few words to describe freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins: he’s a beast.

The 6-foot-11, 260-pound emotional freshman recorded his 12th double-double of the season in scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in an emphatic 85-72 win for the Cats (20-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) over No. 21 Vanderbilt.

“We beat a good team,” Calipari said. “…We had five, almost six guys in double figures scoring, no one shoots it more than 12 times. And a bunch of 10s and sevens, we’re getting balanced.”

The Cats only trailed for 13 seconds the entire game, and led by at least 10 points from the 12:43 mark in the first half on. Cousins, despite playing only eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, scored 13 points and grabbed three rebounds.

“How about in 24 minutes he gets 21 points and 10 rebounds?” Calipari said. “That’s so stupid. Like, it’s ridiculous. He leads the nation in points per minute and rebounds per minute. If he could stay out of foul trouble he’d be scoring 40 points and 23 rebounds a game. He is a beast.”

Cousins gave the Cats the lead for good 58 seconds into the game when he made a layup while being fouled by Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy. The Cats stretched the lead to 19 on three different occasions in the first half and used a 10-0 run during a stretch spanning just over four minutes to give themselves some breathing room.

At halftime the Cats led by 15 points in a game highlighted partially by the officials calling 30 fouls on the two teams combined. By the end of the game the two teams had been whistled for 58 fouls and two technicals, one of which was assessed to Cousins.

The other technical was given to Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. Stallings said he doesn’t recall what he said to the officials to warrant the technical, but that he deserved it. Stallings also said Cousins had his way with Vanderbilt until he got in foul trouble.

“A lot has been made about John Wall, and deservedly so because he’s a terrific player,” Stallings said. “But Cousins, even though at a different position, is just as much of a factor I think right now for their team. He’s really becoming, very quickly, a dominant inside player – maybe the dominant inside player in our league.”

Calipari said Cousins’ technical foul was warranted because of what he said. Cousins still contends that he didn’t finish the thought that was going through his head while heading to the bench.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, what the…’ and stopped. And he got me,” Cousins said. “Yeah, I didn’t complete the word but he got me.”

Calipari said he’s still proud of the way Cousins has kept his composure throughout the season though, and pointed out to how far he has come. Cousins said the intensity of the game was high but he expected that.

After the game all Calipari could do when thinking about Cousins’ performance was shake his head in amazement and repeat the phrase he used to describe Cousins’ play.

“He’s a beast, he’s a beast,” Calipari said. “And then you have to foul him to keep him away from the glass, and then you have to foul him if he’s trying to score. And now he’s making free throws. He’s a beast.”

UK Men’s Basketball vs. Vandy – Images by Kentucky Kernel