INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Kentucky was too quick, too strong and just too good for Indiana on Saturday.
The second-ranked Wildcats took advantage of their inside game, then used a suffocating defense to limit the Hoosiers to 15 second-half points and their lowest point total in nearly 20 years in an 80-41 rout.
“We played with a different attitude in the second half and a different effort,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
The Wildcats (6-0) looked like a team intent on reaching No. 1. They won their 26th straight regular-season game and had a huge advantage inside, where they outscored Indiana 48-16 and outrebounded them 54-35.
Chuck Hayes had a career-high 22 points, and Erik Daniels added 19. Hayes and Daniels each grabbed 10 rebounds.
“It just shows that we came ready to play and don’t underestimate us,” Hayes said. “We are a good team.”
For coach Mike Davis, it was one of his bleakest days since taking over the Hoosiers four years ago, even in a series that has been filled with forgettable moments.
Saturday’s loss was the worst of Davis’ career, six points worse than Indiana’s defeat at Wake Forest on Dec. 2, and his fourth straight loss against Kentucky.
It was also the Hoosiers’ worst defeat in the 47-game series, breaking a mark that had stood since 1965 when Kentucky won 91-56. The last time Indiana was held to 41 points was Jan. 27, 1985, in a 52-41 loss at Illinois.
The blowout took its toll on Davis. At times, he acted like Bob Knight, the man he replaced, by repeatedly scolding his players on the court.
But at least he was around for the game’s finish. Last year against Kentucky, he was ejected and eventually suspended one game after berating on official.
This time, Davis’ anger was directed toward his players.
After skipping his postgame news conference and talking to his team for nearly an hour, Davis finally emerged from the locker room with his critique.
“I told them I was disappointed in our lack of concentration,” he said. “We went over our game plan, we had a game plan. It didn’t start in the second half. We didn’t execute in the first half like I wanted to, either.”
Kentucky just made them pay a bigger price in the last 20 minutes.
But there were indications of a blowout almost from the opening tip.
On the game’s opening possession, the Wildcats got a layup from Hayes.
On Indiana’s first possession, it nearly had a shot-clock violation as nobody could get free against Kentucky’s quicker athletes.
Only three Hoosiers scored in the first half and only four in the game— Bracey Wright had 23 points, Sean Kline 15, Mike Roberts two and Marshall Strickland one.
“Everyone looked scared today, and we haven’t looked that way all year,” Kline said. “To come out and play that way on national television against Kentucky, it’s difficult.”
Indiana, which had won two straight, stayed close in the first half for one reason—Kentucky committed 13 turnovers. Despite shooting 60 percent from the field, the Wildcats only led 32-26.
At halftime, Smith scolded his players.
“I told them we were going to play a lot harder in the second half, not in those words,” Smith said.
Hayes responded by opening the second half with back-to-back baskets, sparking a 9-0 run that extended the lead to 41-26.
Indiana cut the margin to 12 with 16:42 left, but the Wildcats had another 9-0 run to make it 54-31 with 12:30 to go.
The Hoosiers never challenged again and Davis spent most of the rest of the game looking for anybody for who would play hard.
“I’m not sure they understand why we lost the game in the second half,” Davis said.
There was no doubt Kentucky knew the answer.
“We really got our hands on the ball and understood what we needed to do,” Smith said. “We are very pleased with our effort today, especially in the second half.”