Saturday, December 09, 2000

Smith: UK must be sharper

Will face pressure defense from Georgia Tech

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Tubby Smith thinks he has an explanation for his squad's 29 turnovers during its 94-79 victory over Eastern Kentucky Tuesday.

        “I don't want to take anything away from Eastern Kentucky, but I think it was more or less a letdown on our part,” Smith said Friday. “Most of it was a lack of focus and a breakdown in mental concentration.”

  • When: Noon today.
  • Where: Philips Arena (19,000), Atlanta.
  • TV: ESPN.
  • Records: UK 3-3, Ga. Tech 4-2.
  • Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).

  Tayshaun Prince-6-9-Jr.-12.0
  Jason Parker-6-8-Fr.-8.5
  Marvin Stone-6-10-So.-7.8
  Keith Bogans-6-5-So.-16.5
  Saul Smith-6-2-Sr.-10.2
  Coach: Tubby Smith (fourth year, 89-26; 213-88 overall)

  Jon Babul-6-7-Sr.-3.8
  Marvin Lewis-6-3-Fr.-11.8
  Alvin Jones-6 -11-Sr.-17.2
  Shaun Fein-6-3-Sr.-15.3
  Tony Akins>5-1114.5
  Coach: Paul Hewitt (first year, 4-2; 70-29 overall)
  BY THE NUMBERS • 56-14: UK's lead in the series.
        The 29 turnovers against EKU were the most since his 1998 squad committed 29 in a Tipoff Classic loss to Duke, and the most ever by Kentucky in Rupp Arena.

        “We've worked hard this week in practice on keeping the turnovers down,” Smith said. “I think our guys understand that we can't have that many mistakes against a team like Georgia Tech.”

        The Wildcats (3-3) will take on the Yellow Jackets (4-2) in the first game of the Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids at the Georgia Dome at noon today. The second game of the doubleheader will feature Georgia and North Carolina State.

        Georgia Tech, which has lost six in a row to UK, has the size and quickness to stand toe to toe with the Wildcats. Led by 6-foot-11 center Alvin Jones and 5-11 guard Tony Akins, the Yellow Jackets employ a tough pressure defense.

        Smith said he expects Georgia Tech to come after his squad from the opening tip.

        “That's their style,” he said. “(Coach Paul Hewitt) has incorporated an uptempo, pressing style that has worked for them. It caused problems for Iowa and Georgia and several other teams. We've got to be conscious of that and take care of the ball better.”

        Jones scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and guard Shaun Fein added 22 points as the Yellow Jackets fell to Georgia 75-70 Wednesday night. Akins, who went into the Georgia game averaging 17 points, made just one of 12 shots and managed only two points.


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