When he played at Tennessee, former Mason County standout Chris Lofton produced career performances against Kentucky. During visits to Rupp Arena, Lofton made shot after shot against the Wildcats.
Lofton was in attendance at Rupp Arena and watched as another ex-Mason County standout – Darius Miller – provided a breakthrough performance in the rivalry between the two border rivals. Before the contest, Lofton chatted with Miller’s parents in the stands.
Miller, a freshman at Kentucky, couldn’t miss in the Cats’ 77-58 win over the Volunteers Saturday. Miller finished with a career-high 17 points in six-of-six shooting from the field. Miller made three shots from long range, dished out six assists and collected two blocks.
“I’m playing with a lot more confidence than I was at the beginning of the season,” Miller said. “My coaches and my teammates have helped me out with that. They have told me what to do and have been there for me the whole season.”
Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie praised Miller’s performance.
“Darius was great. That was the Darius Miller that we recruited. He’s been making strides. It’s great for a guy like him to have a bust-out game like that and for what it can do for him the remainder of the season. I really thought he’d be our third leading scorer the whole season but we will see what happens. I was very proud. He has been a good defender and I don’t think that was his strong suit coming into this program.
“He’s worked hard and he’s a good rebounder. He’s an offensive player. I think he’s going to be a great player before it’s all over, but I’ve always thought that. It was nice to see him have a great game today.”
Taking the blame
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl took the blame for his team’s performance against Kentucky.
“I’m not going to sugar-coat it,” he said. “I would like to congratulate Kentucky on a great effort. They had tremendous execution and completely dominated us and our players. As a head coach, I have never been so embarrassed by how I coached, or how my team played. I apologize to our fans and the University of Tennessee.
“We didn’t play with poise, passion, or with a purpose, and I thought that there were times where we quit. I have never had this issue. I have been a head coach for a lot of years and my team has finished first or second in every conference that we have played in. Those teams have played hard and unselfishly, this team doesn’t do either.”