- Tuesday, December 5 2000 -
Eastern Kentucky - 79 (Head Coach: Travis Ford) - [Unranked]
|Adrian "Spanky" Parks||34||8||20||1||5||2||8||5||2||7||2||2||3||0||4||19|
Kentucky - 94 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||21||3||7||1||5||0||0||0||1||1||2||0||0||0||1||7|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, Eastern Kentucky 37
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|North Carolina 93 - 76|||||Georgia Tech 84 - 86|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK Tops Colonels
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky may have turned a corner with its stunning 17-point victory at North Carolina on Saturday, but the Wildcats encountered a somewhat predictable speed bump last night against Eastern Kentucky.
Coming off their most emotional high in a difficult early season, the Cats coasted to a 94-79 victory over their interstate neighbors. And a little too literally to suit their coach.
"I thought it was just sloppy," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, whose team committed a whopping 29 turnovers and never was able to put the scrappy Colonels away. "We were pretty sloppy with the ball all night. For some reason, we just didn't take care of the ball like we should.
"We just weren't very sharp at all, and I was concerned about that coming off the win (over North Carolina).... At this level of competition, intensity and concentration and focus are critical. If you don't do that, you can't be successful. It's taking us awhile to learn that with so many young guys."
The Cats' lack of focus and enthusiasm was seemingly reflected by the Rupp Arena crowd of 18,349, one of the smallest to see a regular season game in Lexington in the 25-year history of the facility.
All of those factors combined to help Eastern Kentucky (2-3) hang close through most of the game.
Kentucky never trailed, but led only 45-37 at the half and didn't stretch the margin past 20 until late in the second half. Even then, the Colonels showed their resolve by fighting to the final horn, outscoring the Cats 12-3 in the last 4:04 to leave with a more respectable deficit. "I've got to compliment Eastern Kentucky," Smith said. "Travis (Ford) had his troops ready to play. They fought hard, really came after us on the boards, and forced a lot of turnovers."
Saul Smith proved to be the catalyst Kentucky needed to avoid a potential embarrassing night. The senior point guard scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime to help the Cats pull away, including a pair of 3-pointers in a 12-2 run that helped UK stretch its lead to 24 at 9:55 mark.
Smith matched his career scoring high and finished with a nice line of seven assists, five rebounds and only one turnover in 25 minutes of action.
"I don't think it was tough getting ready to play, but we came out of the blocks really slow," said the Cats' co-captain. "But you've also got to give credit to EKU. They're well-coached and they came out scrappy. They were definitely undersized, but they made up for it with hustle.
"We definitely had too many turnovers tonight and didn't make crisp passes. But we knocked down the shots when they were there. If they're falling, we're a pretty good offensive team. We put up 94 points tonight with 29 turnovers."
Sophomore guard Keith Bogans paced Kentucky (3-3) with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Smith, Tayshaun Prince (15) and Erik Daniels (14) also hit for double figures as the Cats shot 48 percent (28 of 58) from the field, 40 percent (10 of 25) from 3-point range and 74 percent (28 of 38) at the line.
"I'm glad to see Keith shooting the ball better," Tubby Smith said. "Tayshaun had a nice game, and Erik Daniels is just playing great. Wow." Daniels was 4-for-4 from the field, raising his season shooting to 20-for-23, and hit six of seven at the line.
Eastern was led by John White, who unleashed a flurry of long-range jumpers from every angle of the floor. The senior guard finished with 21 points on 7-of-21 shooting overall and 5-of-15 from behind the arc. Junior guard Spanky Parks and senior forward Lavoris Jerry added 19 and 10 points, respectively.
The Colonels shot 35 percent (26 of 75) from the field, but took advantage of 18 offensive rebounds and 24 points off UK turnovers. The much bigger Cats held a modest 48-40 advantage on the boards.
"They played hard until the buzzer," said Ford, the former UK standout. "It was just great. They made me feel really good."