- Wednesday, February 23 2000 -
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 18th by AP]
|J. P. Blevins||14||2||2||2||2||0||0||0||2||2||4||1||1||0||1||6|
Tennessee - 74 (Head Coach: Jerry Green) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Halftime Score: Tennessee 31, Kentucky 23
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Georgia 70 - 64|||||Arkansas 60 - 55|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Harris, Victor shine
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- So much for the slumping Tony Harris and Isiah Victor.
Four days after combining for just five points on 1-for-16 shooting in an 85-72 loss at Vanderbilt, Tennessee's junior tandem lit up Kentucky for 49 points Wednesday in a 74-67 victory at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Harris, left unattended by the Wildcats for most of the night, responded with 27 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 from 3-point range. He was coming off arguably the worst game in his Tennessee career, a 1-for-14 effort and three points at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym, but came just two points shy of his career high against No. 18 Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Victor delivered another solid performance against his home state. The Hopkinsville native tallied 22 points (5 of 10 from the field, 12 of 15 at the line) and also pulled down seven rebounds against the Cats.
"It was good to see Tony Harris and Isiah Victor back on their game,'' Tennessee coach Jerry Green said. "We do better when they bring their 'A' game.
"The other big thing, other than those two (Harris and Victor) playing as well as they have all year, was defensively we were good and didn't give up many easy baskets. Our defensive intensity was maybe as strong as it has been."
The Volunteers held Kentucky to 36 percent (26 of 72) shooting from the field and forced 16 turnovers. The Cats held a solid 47-39 advantage on the boards, but often couldn't convert on second and third opportunities.
"Tennessee did a super job defensively," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We couldn't find the basket. Harris got hot early and we never recovered. I thought we had a chance to get back in it but no one shot consistently from the outside."
The defensive effort also helped Tennessee compensate for an off night by leading-scorer Vincent Yarbrough. The sophomore swingman was held to only four points on 2-for-9 shooting from the field. He entered the game fourth in the SEC at 15.6 points per game.
The victory placed the No. 7 Vols in the driver's seat in the conference's Eastern Division. Tennessee (22-4 overall, 10-3 SEC) now holds a one-game lead over Kentucky (19-8, 9-4) with three league games to play. The Vols, who have reached the 22-win plateau for the first time since 1985, are tied with Florida in the division, but swept the Gators in head-to-head action this season.
Kentucky got off to a 6-0 lead against the Vols, but soon fell into the offensive deficiencies that have haunted the team all season. Tennessee went on a 27-9 run to take control of the game and never looked back. A three-point play by C.J. Black and Harris' third trey of the half sent the Vols into the locker room with a 31-23 advantage.
The Cats manage only 9-for-30 shooting in the first half and were plagued by nine turnovers.
The teams exchanged baskets in the early portion of the second half before the Vols went on a 10-0 run. A putback by Black, a 3-pointer by Terrence Woods, two free throws by Victor and Harris' fifth trey made it 46-30 with 15:16 remaining.
Kentucky responded with a 10-1 run of its own --- highlighted by 3s from J.P. Blevins and Saul Smith --- but could only watch as the Vols shot back with 9-2 spurt t make it 56-42 at the 7:47 mark.
The margin hovered around 13-14 until a Tayshaun Prince 3-pointer --- the second of only two baskets by the Kentucky sophomore --- got the Cats started on a 12-4 run. Blevins' steal and assist resulting in Prince's three-point play at the 1:08 mark made it 68-63.
Kentucky had a chance to cut the lead to four with approximately 50 seconds left, but freshman guard Keith Bogans had his drive to the basket blocked by Yarbrough. Tennessee hit six of eight free throws down the stretch to ensure the victory.
"When Kentucky made a run, we handled it pretty well," Green said. "We did what we needed to do to win."
Victor scored 18 of his points in the second half. Black added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Vols, who shot 39 percent (21 of 54) from the field, but 37 percent (7 for 19) from long range.
Desmond Allison came off the bench to lead the Cats with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The sophomore guard also recorded six rebounds and five assists. Senior center Jamaal Magloire added 11 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots for his SEC-high 12th double-double of the season. He also tied Ralph Beard for fourth place on the all-time games played list at UK with 139. Wayne Turner holds the school record at 151.
Bogans followed with 11 points for Kentucky. Prince, who was coming off a one-game academic suspension, played as if he was still lingering from the Smith's disciplinary act. The sophomore forward was just 3-for-14 from the field in scoring eight points and committed four turnovers.
"You've got to have a toughness about yourself," Smith said. "And tonight, when it got physical, we just kind of backed down. That's very uncharacteristic of our teams.
"It was just another ugly game. We've got to find some answers pretty quick."
Kentucky returns to action Saturday at Rupp Arena against Arkansas. Tipoff for the CBS regional broadcast is scheduled for noon.