- Wednesday, February 23 1994 -
Kentucky - 77 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Tennessee - 73 (Head Coach: Wade Houston) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Tennessee 35, Kentucky 28
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|Vanderbilt 77 - 69|||||Georgia 80 - 59|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 3 No. 25. (All Rights Reserved)
Depleted Cats Vanquish a Vasitude of Vacuous Vols:
Despite using only 8 players, Kentucky somehow managed to overcome a 14 point Volunteer lead to win 77-73 in Knoxville. This is something Kentucky has done only 5 times in the last 22 games played there.
In the pre-game reports on the UK Radio Network, an interview was held with former coach Joe B. Hall who discussed the Tennessee FT switch made in the game of January 10, 1976, involving Ernie Grunfeld. He said that, when questioned about this, Vol coach Ray Mears said that it was not an uncommon practice and was nothing more than gamesmanship. The radio broadcast was replayed of the calls made by Hacker and Macy during the Vanderbilt game. They detected the switch and were puzzled by it, but the Raycom/JP announcers (Tom Hammonds and Larry Conley) did not appear to notice (or, if they did, they said nothing).
Ralph Hacker indicated that callers to UK radio sports programs overwhelmingly supported Pitino's suspensions of Travis Ford, Jared Prickett, and Gimel Martinez, who did not make the trip with the team. Pitino said his remaining players would judiciously use the clock, would employ a "coward's press" (trying only one quick trap, and falling back to regular coverage if it failed), and would save their energy for a late game run.
Chris Harrison got his first career start at UK. Estimates of crowd makeup indicated that about 80% of the fans in attendance were Kentuckians. One of the officials of the Vanderbilt game (Rutledge) was scheduled to call the Tennessee game, but was replaced at the last moment by the SEC office (by Patillo).
Kentucky scored first when Riddick tipped in a Rhodes miss. Tennessee traveled on their first possession. Shots by Hamer and Barnes were balanced by a 3 from Delk, and the game was tied at 5-5. Riddick continued to get reasonable shots down low (as in the Vandy game) but he missed them. UT pulled ahead 11-8 on shots by Golden and a Hamer FT. Kentucky pressed a bit, and forced some UT turnovers, but was unable to capitalize on them. The Vols' 3 point shooting continued to be excellent as Barnes hit another to bring UT up 14-9, and shots by Golden and Hamer put them up 19-9. Unfortunately, the referees for this game made numerous obvious mistakes, and at this point gave an out of bounds ball to Kentucky which had clearly been touched by a Wildcat player.
UK underwent a nightmare period where Sheppard threw the ball away, McCarty fouled and was substituted for by Brassow (leading to a very small UK lineup). Rhodes had a shot blocked, Harrison and Delk missed 3s, and Riddick got a steal but Kentucky couldn't convert. Finally Delk hit a 3 to close to within 19-12. Many shots for UK in the first half appeared to dip into the basket but somehow came out (Rhodes had this happen a couple of times). A Barnes 3 put UT up 22-12 with about 8 minutes left in the half. Riddick dunked a missed Delk 3. Tennessee went up 26-14 on shots by Sheffield and Gray. Consecutive shots by Brassow, Riddick, and Delk cut this to 28-20. Epps and Brassow missed shots, and Riddick gambled and lost against Hamer who dunked for a 30-20 UT edge. Jeff Sheppard came in to hit a couple of shots towards the end, and Riddick closed the half with a dunk on a pass from Epps, which brought the Cats to within 35-28. Riddick somehow managed to play the entire first half without fouling! UK's 3 point shooting was atrocious, connecting on only 2 of 17 attempts. The Cats had a FG shooting percentage of only 35% compared to 45% for Tennessee.
UK and UT exchanged baskets early to start the second half, but 3 point shooting by Barnes and other baskets by Golden and Hamer put the Vols up 44-30 for their biggest lead, after about 3 minutes in the half. Brassow immediately hit a 3 to cut this, and Delk FTs and a driving FG closed to 44-37. Tennessee's lead bounced from 7 to 9 points for a while. Delk appeared to twist an ankle during a scramble for the ball (and sat out a while) but no major damage was done. Another Brassow 3 cut the lead to 48-42 UT. A Delk 3 with 12 minutes remaining further cut the lead to 48-45, and the fans in the stands began the "Go Big Blue" chant. Barnes and Epps traded 3s. Tennessee then *ran* the ball inbounds instead of passing (right in front of a ref), and UK protested, but nothing was called. Riddick was fouled and made 1 FT, followed by another 3 from Epps which made it 52-51 UT. Golden walked while making a pass in UT's halfcourt offense, but no call was made. Riddick tied the game at 54-54 by hitting 1 of 2 FTs. UK and UT had consecutive steals, but when the UT player (Gray?) intercepted a UK pass and fell to the floor, no traveling call was made. Riddick hit a basket and made a FT to put UK up 57-56 (their first lead since 2-0 early on).
Baskets were exchanged for a while so that each team took 1 point leads until UK went ahead to stay with a Delk shot off a Brassow screen, and 2 FTs by Rhodes on a drive (Rhodes earned every single point he made from the free throw line that night) for a 63-60 UK advantage with about 5 minutes left. Kentucky's defense tightened up after this (the Cats switched into several different zones and some man-to-man, but rarely played the same defense twice in a row). A single Rhodes FT and a clutch 3 by Brassow put the Cats up 67-60, causing a UT timeout with 3 minutes remaining.
Kentucky got an identical steal to an earlier one by Tennessee (with the UK player falling to the floor), but the Cats *were* called for this travel. Gray hit 1 of 2 FTs when fouled by Rhodes, but was given another chance on his second attempt since Riddick was in the lane early (he made the second try), to close to within 68-64. Barnes hit a long 2 which closed to within 68-66. Epps was fouled and hit 2 big FTs for a 70-66 UK lead, and Rhodes added another single FT. Free throws were exchanged by Gray and Rhodes, before Golden hit a 3 to cut the lead to 73-71. Rhodes was fouled and made 2 UK FTs to push back out by 75-71. Hamer hit the last Vol FG, and Rhodes added 2 more FTs at the end for a final score of 77-73.
In his postgame radio show, Pitino said he didn't think his team had much chance to win this game, considering that Riddick and McCarty were usually foul prone. He said that the team won the game for the 3 suspended players, who had justly paid for their mistake. Pitino said he was as proud of this win as the one against LSU, considering the uphill battle faced by the remaining players. He said he knew UK's good shots, which were not falling in the first half, would start to go in during the second half. The Cats had only 12 turnovers for the game, which was excellent, and Rick said he had counted 34 UK deflections, 20 in the second half, which was also quite good.
Pitino said he would probably miss the graduation of Jeff Brassow more than any other player he'd coached. Brassow doesn't pass, block, dribble, or shoot particularly well, he said, but he makes up for it by tremendous hustling, and he can hit the big shots when it counts. Rick said the team was eagerly looking forward to rematches against Georgia and Florida, and was truly looking forward to playing at home again after the long road stretch. He said he knew the UK-UT rivalry was alive and well when he and the other coaches were jogging around Knoxville on the morning of the game, and a Tennessee driver (who had been going around 30 MPH) suddenly sped up to 70 MPH when he saw the Kentucky coaching staff in front of him!