Saturday, November 27, 1999

Arizona 63, Kentucky 51


Arizona guards stars of show in NIT final

BY JENNIFER SCROGGINS
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEW YORK — No. 8 Arizona and No. 11 Kentucky traded bad shots, turnovers and missed opportunities in the first half of the Preseason NIT finals Friday. Arizona got better. UK didn't.

        Freshman guards Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner made key steals that sparked an Arizona surge at the end of the first half that gave U of A (4-0) control in a 63-51 defeat of UK (3-1) in Madison Square Garden.

        “You have to have a lot of poise, and I think those guys did a great job,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said of his green backcourt.

        “Jason has told me all along that he can play like a veteran,” the coach added with a laugh. “And Gilbert's only 17, so he doesn't realize there's any pressure.”

        Olson may have been joking, but Gardner and Arenas were no laughing matter for UK.

        Arenas, who scored a game-high 20 points, gave Arizona its first lead, 21-20, on a driving layup created when he stripped UK freshman Keith Bogans and took it all the way with 2:51 to go in the first half.

        Gardner, who finished with 10 points, then struck, stealing the ball from Saul Smith. Gardner was fouled and made his first free throw for a 22-20 U of A advantage.

        Arenas then hit two foul shots, and following a basket by UK's Jules Camara, Gardner sunk a 3-pointer for a 27-22 lead.

        Arizona went into halftime with just a 29-25 edge, but U of A had turned the tempo in its favor and had taken a lead it would not lose.

        “We were frustrated at the beginning, because we wanted to get out and run,” Arenas said. “I just told the big men, if they get the rebound, look up the court so we can see, so we can get running.”

        Arizona's cause was helped in no small way by Kentucky's woeful shooting. UK hit 35.6 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from the foul line.

        Tayshaun Prince led UK with 18 points but was 7-of-18 shooting. Desmond Allison chipped in 12 points, but coach Tubby Smith said his team lacked the scoring balance it needed.

        “Poor execution on our part,” Smith said. “Just poor decisions.”

        “(Tayshaun's) got to shoot the ball better,” Smith added.

        UK couldn't even get easy baskets inside. Center Jamaal Magloire was completely ineffective, finishing 1-of-5 for four points with six turnovers.

        Kentucky couldn't feed the ball inside, and when it did, shots rolled out, bounced off the rim and caromed off the backboard.

        The reason for UK's lack of post production? Smith gave credit to Gardner.

        “They did a good job of really pressuring up on Saul,” Tubby Smith said.

        With UK's point guard bottled up, Arizona was free to overplay the lane.

        “We weren't scoring,” Smith said. “Jamaal had jump hooks he was missing ... We got the ball inside and didn't do anything with it.”

        That was true of both teams in the first half. The game did not begin as the fast-paced affair anyone had expected.

        Before halftime, UK was blowing jump shots, foul shots, putbacks. Arizona was shooting airballs and lobbing passes out of bounds. Neither team was pressing the other's offense into submission or beating the other with quickness.

        It just wasn't very good basketball.

        “That certainly was not pretty,” Olson said. “There was tremendous defense on both ends of the court. We had a hard time getting our shots up once they had their defense set. The thing that saved us was that we got a lot of opportunities on spread-court situations where we could take the ball to the basket.”

        While Magloire struggled for UK, Arizona's inside starters — Loren Woods and Michael Wright — combined for only three field goals.

        UK's power forward, Camara, was largely responsible for that, notching four blocked shots. UK finished with eight blocks, but only one came in the second half as Gardner and Arenas helped Arizona build its lead to as much as 15 with about four minutes to play.

        “We've had some great guards in our program, but we never had two come in the same year who can play like these two can,” Olson said of the freshman duo. “They both have great attitudes, and both are going to get better because they are coachable. And they're going to do good things in order for us to win.”

Ugly play proves costly for 'Cats


ARIZONA (63)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Jefferson       33  7-10   1-1   2-8  2  1   15
Wright          17   0-3   1-2   2-3  0  5    1
Woods           31  3-10   2-4   0-7  1  4    8
Arenas          35  6-10   7-8   0-4  2  1   20
Gardner         37   3-9   1-3   0-3  3  0   10
Walton          20   3-7   0-0   3-5  2  1    6
Anderson         3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Javtokas         2   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Frazier          8   0-4   0-0   0-2  1  0    0
Wessel          14   1-4   1-2   2-3  0  1    3
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-58 13-20  9-36 11 15   63
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.397, FT-.650. 3-Point Goals: 4-11, .364 (Jefferson 0-1, Arenas 1-3, Gardner 3-6, Anderson 0-1). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 2 (Jefferson 2). Turnovers: 17 (Jefferson 6, Wright 4, Arenas 3, Woods 2, Frazier, Gardner). Steals: 15 (Arenas 5, Gardner 4, Woods 2, Wright 2, Frazier, Jefferson).

KENTUCKY (51) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Camara 16 2-6 0-0 0-0 1 0 4 Prince 38 7-18 1-1 0-5 0 2 18 Magloire 33 1-5 2-5 2-8 2 3 4 Allison 31 5-9 0-0 0-6 1 3 12 Smith 34 1-7 0-0 0-1 3 5 2 Knight 6 0-1 0-2 2-3 0 2 0 Stone 14 3-5 0-0 1-2 0 3 6 Bogans 17 2-4 0-0 1-3 2 3 5 Blevins 6 0-3 0-0 1-1 1 0 0 Tackett 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 21-59 3-8 7-29 10 21 51 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.356, FT-.375. 3-Point Goals: 6-23, .261 (Prince 3-9, Allison 2-4, Smith 0-6, Bogans 1-1, Blevins 0-2, Tackett 0-1). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 8 (Camara 4, Prince 2, Magloire, Stone). Turnovers: 21 (Magloire 6, Allison 4, Bogans 3, Camara 2, Prince 2, Smith 2, Knight, Stone). Steals: 6 (Stone 3, Allison, Bogans, Magloire). __________________________________ Arizona 29 34 - 63 Kentucky 25 26 - 51 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 12,560. Officials: Jody Silvester, John Cahill, Reggie Greenwood.



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