- Saturday, November 20 2004 -
Coppin State - 46 (Head Coach: Ron Mitchell) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 77 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 9th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 40, Coppin State 18
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alabama-Birmingham 75 - 76|||||Ball State 73 - 53|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats ace opener, drill Coppin State
A new era in Kentucky basketball dawned with the Cats' season-opening victory over Coppin State last weekend, but it was an old stand-by that led the way to the 77-46 victory before 22,231 fans at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky made up for a mediocre offensive display by dominating Coppin State on the defensive end of the floor. The Cats held the Eagles to just 24 percent shooting in the first half and 33.3 percent for the game in turning the normally confident Eagles into a hesitant group.
"I thought the kids did a superb job defensively, getting a lot of deflections," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "Causing deflections and turnovers is something that we try to do. We created a lot of momentum early. I was impressed with our defense in the first half and 33 percent for the game is outstanding."
UK was so dominant on defense that when the starters exited with more than four minutes left, the Cats had given up just 34 points 12 made field goals. When all was said and done, Coppin St. had been held to 17-of-51 shooting (1-of-12 from three-point range), turned the ball over 22 times and allowed UK 29 points off turnovers.
"We started the game trying to control the tempo and then Patrick Sparks hit a few jump shots and got us into a different mode," Coppin St. coach Fang Mitchell said. "This was one of the rare times that I saw a team of mine play with fear."
As season openers go, Smith couldn't have been much happier. Despite poor offensive games from expected scoring threats Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azubuike, the Cats still had more than enough offensive juice to ease past the Eagles.
Hayes and Azubuike combined to go 4-of-17 from the field, but Sparks hit a trio of three-pointers and finished with 12 points, while eight UK players scored at least six points. Hayes finished with a double-double at 12 points and 13 rebounds, while freshman Ramel Bradley added seven points, six assists and four rebounds.
"We were preparing ourselves to play in a game that we had to battle," Hayes said. "Our mindset was that they were a team that wouldn't back down. We were able to get the crowd going with the press early."
Still, not everyone was pleased with the offensive effort, as UK at times struggled to score easy buckets.
"Our offense at some points was a little suspect," Azubuike said. "We were not hitting the open man every time."
Smith agreed with his players' assessments.
"We missed a lot of shots inside three-point range," Smith said. "We weren't able to finish around the basket a couple of times. Chuck must have missed four or five baskets inside. Kelenna struggled with his offense. I thought we should have had about 30 assists in the game."
As it was, UK aced its opening test in a year where so much is new.
Shagari Alleyne and Chuck Hayes team up to block a Coppin State shot
Rajon Rondo finishes with an open court dunk