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DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky basketball regain some swagger

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DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky basketball regain some swagger

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:41 pm

DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky basketball regain some swagger

LEXINGTON, Ky.

After every conference loss this season, University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari has noted that playing the Wildcats is like every opponent's Super Bowl.

Tuesday night against Tennessee, UK junior DeAndre Liggins was both Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson — and the Wildcats again looked like a special team, pounding the Volunteers 73-61 before a Rupp Arena crowd of 24,334.

The difference was intensity. UK has been playing hard, even in its losses, but against Tennessee, Liggins was over the top from the start. He even bounced up pointing when the theatrical Teddy Valentine called him for a block in his characteristically enthusiastic manner.

Liggins finished with 19 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists.

“He was fabulous, fabulous,” UK coach John Calipari said. “Defended. I told our team we've got to figure out a way to get him eight to 10 shots a game. He made six tonight, but he got fouled a bunch. He deserves it, the way he defends.”

There was an edge to this effort by the Wildcats, especially after a 14-2 Tennessee run had cut a 19-point UK lead to seven at halftime. Early in the second half the Wildcats pounded the offensive glass, got a few stops and even started flashing smiles while stretching the lead back out to 17.

Liggins wasn't the only one who brought Super Bowl intensity. Josh Harrellson grabbed four timely offensive rebounds for putbacks — including two in a row early in the second half — and Brandon Knight was brilliant in the final 20 minutes.

Harrellson was better than he had been since the victory over Louisville on Dec. 31. The senior scored 16 points — more than anyone the 19 NBA scouts had come to watch.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, who returned from an eight-game Southeastern Conference suspension for breaking NCAA rules, wasn't the only one who came back on Tuesday. It also marked a return of the swagger the Wildcats hadn't truly shown against a quality opponent since winning at U of L.

It wasn't just coincidence.

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