- Saturday, March 18 2000 -
NCAA Midwest Regional Second Round (at Cleveland, OH)
Kentucky - 50 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Final Rank 19th by AP]
|J. P. Blevins||12||1||3||1||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||3|
Syracuse - 52 (Head Coach: Jim Boeheim) - [Final Rank 16th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 23, Syracuse 23
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|St. Bonaventure 85 - 80 2 OT|||||St. Johns 61 - 62|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK falls to Syracuse
CLEVELAND -- Kentucky's tumultuous, roller coaster of a season came down its final slope and ended with a heartbreaking 52-50 loss to Syracuse on Saturday in the second round of the Midwest Region.
In a sloppy, but hard-nosed defensive struggle that featured 12 ties and 11 lead changes, the Orangemen took the lead with 37 seconds remaining as point guard Jason Hart penetrated and kicked the ball out to Preston Shumpert for an 19-foot jumper from the right baseline.
Kentucky had a chance to tie or win the game, but encountered trouble running its set offense and was forced to call timeout with 10.7 seconds left. The Wildcats came out of the break with the play they wanted --- Keith Bogans driving to the basket --- but the freshman guard was cut off by three Syracuse defenders and had to put up and off-balance shot from the baseline. The ball wound up in the hands of Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince, but he also missed as the buzzer sounded.
"We lost to a team that really did a good job executing down the stretch," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "My hat's off to Syracuse because I thought we did some good things defensively. We just couldn't get that last shot to fall."
The Cats' inability to capitalize on the final possession made a hero of Shumpert, a sophomore reserve noted for his perimeter shooting. He finished with a team-high 12 points, but none bigger than the final two.
"When you get shots like that in the clutch, the first thing you usually do is tense up. I'm glad I didn't," Shumpert said. "I just tried to hold my follow-through as long as I could. The ball came to me and I just tried to step up and knock it down."
That was the exception rather than the rule for most of the day.
Syracuse won despite shooting 32 percent (20 of 63) from the field and placing only Shumpert in double figures. Kentucky managed only 40 percent (19 of 47) from the field and committed 19 turnovers. In addition, the Orangemen held a 40-33 rebounding advantage, including 22 second-chance points off 21 offensive boards.
"What killed us was second-chance points," Smith said. "And we had some curious turnovers."
"It looked like an ugly game," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "But we're moving on.
"We were lucky. It was one of those games where no one could make a shot."
That was especially true in the first half as the teams played to a 23-23 tie at the break. The Orangemen were fortunate to be in that position after going through an 11-minute stretch with only one field goal, but during that same span Kentucky was unable to generate any offense either.
The lead continued to change hands through the early portion of the second half before Kentucky's Prince finally got into the scoring column with a 3-pointer at the 10:20 mark. The sophomore forward was coming off a career-high 28 point performance on Thursday against St. Bonaventure. His trey tied the game at 38, and he then proceeded to score the next seven points to give the Cats a 45-42 advantage.
But Syracuse responded with a 6-0 spurt of its own on a putback by center Etan Thomas, a driving basket by Hart and a pair of free throws by Ryan Blackwell. It came during a stretch which saw the Orangemen score 12 of 17 points off the offensive glass.
A free throw by Bogans and a rebound dunk by Jules Camara tied the game at 48 with 2:40 left. Syracuse reclaimed the lead on a Blackwell jumper, and Kentucky countered with another Camara dunk to set up the climactic moments.
Jamaal Magloire led the Cats with 12 points and nine rebounds in his final collegiate game. Bogans also scored 12. Prince and Camara each added 10.
Syracuse got nine points and 10 rebounds from Thomas, who fouled out with 3:46 remaining. Blackwell and Damone Brown added nine and eight points, respectively, and each pulled down seven rebounds.
The Orangemen (26-5) advance to play the winner of today's Michigan State-Utah matchup in the Sweet 16 next week at Auburn Hills, Mich. It will mark the first time in six years that Kentucky (23-10) has not advanced to the Elite Eight.
"We felt like this team has really overcome a lot of things," Smith said. "They stayed focused all year long and I couldn't be more proud of them. We can leave here holding our heads up high."
Syracuse forward Etan Thomas battles Marvin Stone and Jules Camara for the ball
Jamaal Magloire celebrates a play