Saturday, March 13, 1999

UK NOTEBOOK


Recruit dies during prep game

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEW ORLEANS — To hear Kentucky's players and coaches, John Stewart was a gentle giant. The greatest tribute was in the stunned silence that filled their locker room Friday night.

        “We're sure not worrying about a win,” UK sophomore Saul Smith said. “We're worrying about how we're going to miss him.”

        Stewart, a 7-foot, 285-pound senior center at Indianapolis Lawrence North, died Friday after collapsing in an Indiana high school regional tournament game. He was playing for the state's No. 2-ranked Class 4A team against No.1 Bloomington South in a game at Columbus North High School. With about two minutes to play in the third quarter, Stewart asked to come out of the game, then collapsed on the bench.

        Emergency personnel responded and administered CPR, then took Stewart to Columbus Regional Hospital, where he was declared dead. No cause of death was available.

        The teams waited about 30 minutes, and Lawrence North was given the option of postponing the game. It elected to continue, and Bloomington South won 55-50 in overtime.

        The Wildcats didn't learn the news until after their victory over New Mexico State. They all expressed their affection for Stewart, whom they had come to know from his recruiting visit.

        “I can remember being at coach (Tubby) Smith's house, having a great time with John,” UK senior Wayne Turner said. “I remember how much he liked being around the guys, how he fit in right away. I felt like I knew him for years, and he was only with us for a weekend.”

        The players said they planned to have some sort of tribute to Stewart, possibly in the form of a uniform patch.

Turner ties mark
        UK senior point guard Wayne Turner tied an NCAA record Friday by playing in his 148th career game, tying Duke's Christian Laettner (1988-92) record for games played.

        “I think it's an accomplishment,” Turner said. “I guess it shows I've been to the end of the road (in the NCAA Tournament) every year now. To have that record, being associated with a great player like Christian Laettner, is going to be an honor for me.”

Evans hot
        Heshimu Evans' slump is officially over.

        Now that he has scored in double figures in 12 of the past 15 games, the dry spell of midseason (eight straight games in single-digits) can be forgotten. Evans led UK Friday with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals.

        “Heshimu gave us a lot of energy on defense,” Turner said. “He ran the floor well, rebounded well and found his shot. He's on a roll.”

'Cat tales
        UK is 18-1 in the past four NCAA Tournaments.

        • Its 73.7-percent free throw shooting Friday (14 of 19) was its third-best night from the line this season.

        • UK held New Mexico State's Charles Gosa to four second-half points by switching to a zone defense. Gosa had 14 first-half points.

       



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