- Thursday, March 16 2000 -
NCAA Midwest Regional First Round (at Cleveland, OH)
Kentucky - 85 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Final Rank 19th by AP]
|J. P. Blevins||26||3||5||1||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||7|
St. Bonaventure - 80 (Head Coach: Jim Baron) - [Unranked]
|Peter Van Paassen||29||2||7||0||0||4||6||4||3||7||5||0||0||0||1||8|
|David Messiah Capers||40||5||11||1||6||5||5||3||2||5||4||2||2||0||4||16|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, St. Bonaventure 28
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Arkansas 72 - 86|||||Syracuse 50 - 52|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats win in 2OT
CLEVELAND -- They say the first game in any particular tournament is the most important, so Kentucky and St. Bonaventure spent 10 extra minutes deciding Thursday's NCAA Tournament opener.
Both teams held double-digit leads in regulation and the game featured nine ties and 12 lead changes before the No. 16 Wildcats escaped with an 85-80 double-overtime victory over the upset-minded Bonnies in the Midwest Region.
"We deal with a lot of pressure at the University of Kentucky," said Tubby Smith, who improved to 7-0 in overtime games with the Wildcats. "This is a big one, but no bigger than the next one."
The next one for fifth-seeded Kentucky (23-9) is a 1 p.m. Saturday matchup with Syracuse (25-5). The fourth-seeded Orangemen defeated Samford 79-65 in the second game Thursday at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center.
In order to reach that matchup --- featuring the two teams that played for the 1996 NCAA championship in the Meadowlands --- Kentucky needed a career performance by Tayshaun Prince. The sophomore forward was 5-of-6 from 3-point range, including a 23-footer with :07 left to send the game into overtime, on his way to 28 points.
The wiry Prince recorded 11 of the Cats' last 12 points in regulation and added six more in the overtime periods. Freshman guard Keith Bogans also came up big, adding 19 points for Kentucky, who played without starter Desmond Allison. The sophomore guard was arrested and charged earlier this week with driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana, leaving many to predict the Cats were ripe for upset against the Bonnies.
"It's been like this all year long," Smith said. "Nobody picked us to win the SEC regular-season title. Not many picked us in the Top 25. But we've grown together and overcome some difficult times."
St. Bonaventure's season ended at 21-10, but not before presenting the Cats with a serious score.
The Bonnies led 23-13 midway through the first half before Kentucky responded with a 23-5 run to close period. J.P. Blevins' runout basket off a Saul Smith steal and assist send the Cats into the locker room with a 36-28 advantage as St. Bonaventure failed to score in the last 5:18 of the half.
The momentum escaped Kentucky, however, as St. Bonaventure switched to a man-to-man defense and forced several turnovers early in the second half. The Bonnies converted many of the UK mistakes into easy baskets as part of a 23-5 run. J.R. Bremer buried a pair of 3-pointers while David Messiah Capers and Patricio Prato each added one to help give St. Bonaventure a 54-49 lead.
The teams traded baskets until late in regulation when the Bonnies took a 63-60 edge on layups by Prato and Tim Winn. Kentucky appeared to be in trouble with time running down before Prince used a high screen by center Jamaal Magloire and drained a left-handed 3-pointer to tie the game.
"That was a great screen," Prince said of Magloire's pick. "All I had to do was concentrate on my shot."
St. Bonaventure still had an opportunity to win the game, but Winn missed a challenged drive to the basket with :02 left and Magloire snared the rebound.
Kentucky appeared to have the game settled in the first overtime, working its way to a 73-68 lead with :28.4 remaining, but a series of inopportune fouls hurt the Cats. The first was Jules Camara's foul of a Prato 3-pointer with :15.5 left. Prato converted two of three shots to makr it 73-70.
On the other end of the floor, Camara hit only one of two free throws, the fourth consecutive time a Kentucky player did so within the final 1:50. The Bonnies took advantage as Winn drove the length of the court and hit an off-balance layup while drawing a foul from Camara. The speedy point guard added the free throw to pull St. Bonaventure within one at the :08.7 mark.
Magloire hit two free throws for Kentucky after a quick foul by the Bonnies to set up the game's second thrilling sequence. Capers took the ball on the left wing and attempted the would-be tying 3-pointer, but was fouled by the Cats' Marvin Stone. A 56-percent foul shooter, Capers hit all three shots despite being iced twice by Kentucky.
"The guys just told me, 'You make them or you miss them, we still love you,"' Capers said. "There was never any doubt in my mind. They gave me confidence."
Capers also scored four quick points for the Bonnies in the second overtime to give them an 80-78 lead, but the upset was not to be. Kentucky held the St. Bonaventure scoreless over the final 3:19 to advance in the tournament.
"That's a heck of a way to start the NCAA tournament," St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron said. "We fought hard. We fought long. We were one basket away."
"They played their hearts out," added Magliore, who scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Cats. "But we came in with a burning desire."
Tayshaun Prince forces overtime with a three-pointer with only seconds remaining.