- Saturday, February 10 2001 -
Mississippi State - 57 (Head Coach: Rick Stansbury) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 76 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||18||4||6||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||0||1||8|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 38, Mississippi State 24
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Florida 71 - 70|||||Tennessee 103 - 95|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats rout Dogs by 19
The Kentucky Wildcats, led by Tayshaun Prince, went on a 19-6 run in the final 6:47 of the first half to take a 38-24 halftime lead and never looked back, crushing the Mississippi St. Bulldogs by the final score of 76-57. Kentucky's defense was outstanding, holding the Bulldogs' starters to just 21 points.
The Dawgs shot poorly for the entire game, finishing just 21-78 FG for just 26% shooting. From three point range, it was as bad as it gets for MSU, who finished 0-19 from beyond the arc. Starters Marckell Patterson and Antonio Jackson would shoot a combined 2-27 from the field. Kentucky was hot, finishing with 51% FG shooting 29-56 from the field.
Both teams opened in man to man defense. Mississippi St. drew first blood, but Kentucky would answer immediately and jump out to an early 6-2 lead. Jason Parker scored 4 of Kentucky's first 6 points on low post power plays. Tayshaun Prince, who has been playing incredibly well of late, continued to be a major factor early on, scoring seven points in the first seven minutes of the opening period, helping the Wildcats build a 13-6 lead. Coach Smith had said of Prince, "It's really helped to put Tayshaun at the four-spot. It was tough for him to be on the perimeter a lot like he was earlier in the season. He wasn't able to get to the basket because the smaller guy could beat him off the dribble. Now that he's positioned closer to the basket, it's made more scoring opportunities for him."
Cliff Hawkins would also provide a spark from the bench, with a steal resulting in a layup and a sharp dish to Marquis Estill for a basket, providing UK a 19-10 lead with 9:37 remaining in the half. Gerald Fitch continued to inspire Kentucky with his scrappy play.
The Bulldogs, looking overmatched early, would come back. Over the next three minutes, Coach Rick Stansbury's club would score eight unanswered points, cutting the Wildcats lead to 19-10. But freshman Gerald Fitch would end the drought with a three-pointer at the 6:08 mark, and UK would begin a 10-2 run of their own. Cliff Hawkins would score Kentucky's final four points of the half and the Cats took a 38-24 lead into the locker at the break.
The Wildcats swarming defense played a major role in the first half. The Dawgs scored just 24 points on 8-29 FG shooting (0-5 from 3-point range). Marckell Patterson and Antonio Jackson would combine for just 1-12 from the field. Center Robert Jackson was held to 0 points and a single rebound. For Kentucky, Parker led the way with 10 points and Hawkins added 8 as the Cats shot 56% from the field in the 1st half. Saul Smith led the Cats in rebounding with 6 boards.
The Wildcats would extend their lead in the first 8 minutes of the second half, behind the scoring of J.P. Blevins (4 points) and Tayshaun Prince (9 points). Before the game, Prince had said, "I think I have been playing well, but more importantly the team is playing well. This is a good team and it just needed a leader to help things go in the right direction. We are gaining confidence and I am gaining confidence as an individual. My shot is falling and we are getting wins."
One of Prince's shots that fell gave Kentucky a 55-34 lead at the 10:31 mark. Prince drew his third personal foul at 9:49 and left the game to a roaring ovation. Prince sat down with a team high 16 points. Mississippi St. was unable to hit the ocean, missing layups and open jumpers. J.P. Blevins would hit a running jumper to extend the lead to 61-36 at the 7:49 mark and the rout was on. Patterson and Antonio Jackson continued their poor shooting, combining for 0-7 in the first 13 minutes of the second half. The Bulldogs starters managed just 17 points in the first 33 minutes of the game.
With Prince on the bench, Bogans and Fitch took over and kept the Dogs at bay, extending Kentucky's lead to 71-45 with under three minutes remaining. The Wildcats would cruise the remainder of the game. The final score was 76-57. Tayshaun Prince was named the player of the game, finishing with 18 points, on 8-10 FG shooting, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Jason Parker and Gerald Fitch added 12 points each, Hawkins chipped in with 10 points and J.P. Blevins added eight. Highly touted freshman, Mario Austin, finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds for the Bulldogs. It was Kentucky's 5th win in a row, solidifying their SEC East lead at 8-2.
Before the game, Coach Tubby Smith was honored with the game ball for his 100th victory at Kentucky, which came Tuesday against Florida. At halftime, the 1951 NCAA Champions were honored. Kentucky's next game is on Valentine's Day, Wednesday, at Tennessee.