Saturday, January 20, 2001

UK wary of letdown at Ole Miss

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — A seven-game winning streak and a victory over the nation's fourth-ranked team has Kentucky feeling pretty good about itself heading into today's showdown with No.21 Mississippi.

  • When: 1:30 p.m. today.
  • Where: Tad Smith Coliseum (8,135), Oxford, Miss.
  • Records: Kentucky 10-5 (3-0 SEC); Ole Miss 14-3 (2-2).
  • TV: Ch.12,7.
  • Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).

  Tayshaun Prince -6-9-Jr.-13.8
  Jason Parker -6-8-Fr.-8.9
  Gerald Fitch -6-3-Fr.-5.0
  Saul Smith -6-2-Sr.-7.1
  Keith Bogans -6-5-So.-16.4
  Coach: Tubby Smith (96-28, fourth season; 220-90 overall)

  Justin Reed -6-8-Fr.-10.6
  Rahim Lockhart -6-8-Sr.-13.2
  Jason Harrison -5-5-Jr.-6.4
  Jason Holmes -6-5-Sr.-5.4
  Jason Flanigan -6-1-Sr.-7.8
  Coach: Rod Barnes (53-30, third season, same overall)

• 86-10: UK's lead in the series.
  • 74-60: Score of UK's victory in the teams' last meeting, Jan.19, 2000, at UK.

        That confidence, said point guard Saul Smith, could be the Wildcats' most dangerous opponent as they play their first Southeastern Conference road game of the season.

        “It's going to be a challenge for us, no doubt,” said Smith, the team's lone senior. “You have to keep your energy up, especially after an emotional victory over a big rival like Tennessee.

        “You have to stay focused You can't start thinking that, "Well, we won a big game and now it's time to relax and coast.' It's time to buckle down even more. It's definitely not the time to coast. When you start thinking that way, you get beat.”

        Since a one-point loss at Michigan State on Dec.16, Kentucky (10-5, 3-0 SEC) has won seven straight games and is the only SEC team without a conference loss. UK beat Ten nessee on Tuesday.

        “We're playing a lot better, especially defensively,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. “Everybody seems to be on the same page and working hard.”

        Team play will be especially important against the surprising Rebels (14-3, 2-2), who employ an aggressive, pressure defensive style very similar to Kentucky's. Tubby Smith said he knows back-to-back losses to Georgia and Alabama will have Mississippi even more eager to shut down the Wildcats.

        “We'll get to see how we respond after a big win, and I'm sure Coach (Rod) Barnes is eager to see how his team responds after a couple tough losses,” Smith said.

        UK will be without sophomore forward Marvin Stone today. Stone, who has averaged 5.6 points and nearly four rebounds a game since Smith began bringing him off the bench last month, will remain in Lexington to take care of some “academic responsibilities.”

        But, sophomore Keith Bogans said: “I don't see us having a letdown. Me and the older guys are going to do our best to keep everybody focused on playing the way we've been playing. And that all starts with working hard in practice.”

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