LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman Anthony Davis scored 15 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had eight of a school-record 18 blocks in No. 1 Kentucky's 81-59 victory over St. John's on Thursday night.
Terrence Jones added 26 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (7-0), who head into a highly anticipated showdown with No. 5 North Carolina on Saturday on a high note after a stalwart defensive performance.
Davis blocked four shots before the first timeout, and Kentucky set the team record with Eloy Vargas' swat with 2:42 to go. Davis finished one block short of tying the individual mark of nine set by Sam Bowie in 1981 and matched by Andre Riddick in 1993.
God'sgift Achiuwa scored 18 points and Moe Harkless added 16 for the Red Storm (4-4) in St. John's first appearance in Rupp Arena since the 1985 Final Four when it lost to then-No. 1 Georgetown.
This game was much different than the last time the Wildcats took over the No. 1 spot in coach John Calipari's first year when they lost at South Carolina on Jan. 26, 2010.
Davis blocked his sixth shot early in the second half then finished an alley-oop on the other end from Marquis Teague that gave Kentucky a 42-27 lead with 16:26 left. He got his seventh a little over a minute later and his eighth with just over 12 minutes to go.
Kentucky kept extending its lead by holding St. John's to 32 percent shooting, and the fans got a few final thrills when Doron Lamb threw an 18-foot alley-oop that Darius Miller slammed with one hand that made it 74-49 with 3:49 left. Vargas tied, then broke the school record for blocks in a 48-second span to surpass the mark set against Morehead State on Nov. 20, 1997. Lamb finished with 16 points.
St. John's was without coach Steve Lavin, who is recovering from prostate cancer surgery and has missed the Red Storm's last three games. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who won two NCAA titles with Division II Metro State, paced up and down in the white tennis shoes Lavin and his staff wear.
His team played well early, relying on Achiuwa and Harkless on both ends and each had 10 rebounds.
Kentucky didn't make any changes to its starting lineup with senior sixth man Miller entering less than 3 minutes in as the Wildcats got off to a sluggish start. Harkless gave St. John's a 2-0 lead, the biggest deficit that Kentucky had faced at Rupp Arena this season.
The Wildcats committed five early turnovers and started 2 of 11 from the field to trail 5-4 before a 12-0 run with Davis heavily involved on both ends of the floor.
Davis pestered St. John's in the paint, used his quick hands to poke the ball away on the perimeter and simply jumped over the Red Storm for rebounds on both ends of the floor.
In one early sequence, he grabbed an offensive rebound off Teague's missed 3-pointer and kicked it to Miller behind the arc.
Miller missed another long shot, but Davis tapped in the miss with an athletic, one-handed rebound and putback. Jones made an even more athletic play with 3 seconds left in the half, getting around a block out attempt on a free throw by Teague with a powerful dunk that gave the Wildcats a 31-20 lead.