Meeks scores UK record 54 in win

Published 2:28 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jodie Meeks was just trying to get a victory. He didn’t fathom having a chance at earning a spot among Kentucky’s greatest players.

Meeks scored a school-record 54 points to help Kentucky cruise to a 90-72 win over No. 24 Tennessee on Tuesday night.

‘‘It means a lot to be in the same sentence as Dan Issel. It’s mind-boggling,’’ he said. ‘‘I was just out there playing to win.’’

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Meeks, who broke Issel’s 39-year-old record of 53 points set at Mississippi, was mobbed by his Kentucky teammates in the middle of the Thompson-Boling Arena court, where the Wildcats (13-4, 2-0 SEC) handed the Volunteers their third loss in January.

The Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer surpassed his previous high of 46 points, which he set Dec. 20 against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left as he hit an open 3, one of 10 3-pointers he would make for the night. He set the record with free throws with 1:31 left.

Meeks entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring with an average 24.2 points per game.

‘‘I have never seen anything like it,’’ Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. ‘‘Jodie Meeks had 46 against Appalachian State, and they are a nice team, but not near a team the quality of Tennessee and on the home court.’’

The 54 points was also the biggest individual SEC performance since Chris Jackson’s 55 for LSU against Mississippi in 1989.