February 8, 2012

Lamb's threes lead UK past Florida

Doron Lamb had been quiet for most of the first half of Kentucky's 78-58 win over Florida on Tuesday night. The sophomore guard had just four points and had missed his only three-point attempt on the night with less than a minute to go before halftime.

Freshman point guard Marquis Teague found Lamb for a three-pointer with 50 seconds to go before the half. Lamb was open in the left corner. He didn't hesitate.

"When I got the ball, (the defender) gave me a little room," Lamb said. "Coach told me if I get a little room, just put it up."

Suddenly, the Wildcats had their biggest lead of the game.

Lamb wasn't done. He was open again on the left side on the next possession. Teague fed him the ball. He knocked down another three with seven seconds remaining, propelling Kentucky into the locker room up 38-26.

"That gave us some breathing room, up 12," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said.

He finished with a game-high 18 points on 6-8 shooting.

Lamb went 4-5 from three-point range on the night, moving his three-point percentage on the season to 49.5. If he makes his next three-point attempt, he'll have made 48-96 shots from long range this year - exactly 50 percent.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's hard to do that. I put a lot of shots up before practice, after practice, and on my days off. My shot's looking good and I have a lot of confidence in my range."

Lamb's early misfire was his only missed shot from three-point range in his last two games. He went 3-3 in Kentucky's 86-52 stomping of South Carolina on Saturday.

He wasn't the only one who found his stroke behind the arc. Teague made 2-3 three-point attempts and the Wildcats shot 60 percent as a team from downtown, their best rate all year.

Florida, a team known for its three-point shooting, struggled all night. The Gators entered the night ranked fifth in the country in three-point attempts but made just six of their 27 tries. Junior guard Kenny Boynton was the only player for Florida to make more than one three-pointer. The rest of the team combined to go 2-19 from behind the arc.

The Gators couldn't find a rhythm offensively or defensively outside the arc. While their outside shooting fizzled, the Wildcats knocked down open shots and began to pull away. Lamb's third three-pointer, with 11:27 to go in the game, gave Kentucky its first 20-point lead. His final make pushed the lead to 21 points with 8:26 to go, the largest lead Kentucky had the entire game.

"We weren't doing what we were supposed to do the entire game," Florida guard Brad Beal said. "We were helping off shooters that we shouldn't have been helping off of. Our whole defensive principles were wrong throughout the whole game. That's not the way we play. We played terrible. They murdered us."

Lamb also has an outside chance at bumping his career three-point percentage to 50 percent by the time the season ends. In his two seasons as a Wildcat, he's made 48.9 percent of his three-pointers. A hot streak over the course of a couple of games could bump him over the threshold.

Lamb (48.9 percent) currently holds the UK record for three-point field goal percentage for a career, ahead of Cameron Mills (47.4 percent) and Travis Ford (44.5 percent). More importantly, he has the confidence of his teammates.

"I see him shooting every day in the gym, so when I see him open I'm giving him the ball," Teague said. "I know he's going to make it. That's what he does."

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