- Saturday, January 4 2003 -
(at Cincinnati, OH)
Kentucky - 83 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 20th by AP]
Ohio - 75 (Head Coach: Tim O'Shea) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 41, Ohio 25
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alcorn State 94 - 63|||||Tennessee 74 - 71|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK survives Ohio rally, 83-75
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Some habits are hard to break, even with a new cast of characters.
Kentucky went back to its old bad habits of relaxing too soon, letting a 19-point lead shrink to three before holding on for an 83-75 victory over Ohio at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
For the Cats (9-3), it was all too familiar of a script from the past few years.
"It's just a killer instinct you have to have," sophomore Chuck Hayes said. "Don't look at the score. Play each minute like it's your last."
UK did just that for the first 30 minutes, running out to a 30-15 lead and leading by as many as 19 in the second half before Ohio (3-6) crept back into the game.
Despite holding the Bobcats to just 40 percent shooting, a 10-2 run got Ohio to within 74-68 with just 3:11 left. After Keith Bogans missed two free throws at the 2:07 mark, Ohio's Sonny Johnson rattled home a long three from the left wing to make it 76-73 at 1:54.
After Cliff Hawkins calmly buried two free throws and Ohio's Brandon Hunter scored underneath, Cincinnati native Erik Daniels made the biggest play of the game, losing the handle on an open dunk, but recovering to lay the ball in for an 80-75 lead with just 33 seconds left. Marquis Estill then blocked Hunter from behind on the next possession before a Hawkins steal and Bogans' lay-in plus free throw sealed the deal.
"At one point, I thought we were playing pretty good," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "But (Ohio) fought in the second half. They has some big, heavy bodies to throw at us in the second half."
Smith was referring to what changed the complexion of the game in the second half Ð rebounding. UK held a 30-12 edge on the glass at halftime, but were dominated 26-12 in the final stanza, which included 14 offensive boards.
"Ohio's effort was a big part (of that)," Smith said. "They had a lot of mismatches inside. They were just determined to get to the boards. I think they recognized they had an opportunity to get back in the game."
While UK was coasting, Hunter, Johnson and Steve Esterkamp were bringing the Bobcats back. Hunter, who shunned a chance to go to the NBA last spring, exploded for 15 points and 12 rebounds in the second half, while Johnson had a team-high 24 points and Esterkamp 18 more.
"We started to throw in some crazy shots," Ohio Coach Tim O'Shea said. "That helps. That can spark a team. You need to make a few of those to have a chance."
Ohio had its chance, but couldn't come completely back. For UK, it was another in a long line of near collapses.
"I don't know what the problem is," junior Gerald Fitch said. "We just get comfortable with ourselves. When things are going well and we're making shots, we get comfortable.
"Then we miss a few (shots), turn the ball over and that let's the cat fighting back in."
With the SEC slate tipping off this week, UK can't afford anymore lapses.