Wednesday, January 16, 2002

UK clamps down on Mississippi

Wildcats shoot 53 percent to Rebels' 33

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Tubby Smith has been waiting for his team to put together a dominating defensive performance.

        The 12th-ranked Wildcats did just that Tuesday night, holding Mississippi to a season-low 33 percent from the field en route to an 87-64 victory.

        Kentucky (11-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) suffocated the Rebels from the opening tip, holding them without a field goal for nearly eight minutes in taking a 24-5 lead.

        “We're playing defense with more pride,” said Smith, who covets defensive intensity above all else. “This is the type of defense we have to play to be successful.”

        Tayshaun Prince scored 19 points, Marquis Estill had 15 and Gerald Fitch added 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Wildcats won their second straight game following consecutive conference losses.

        David Sanders scored 17 points, Emmanuel Wade had 13 and Justin Reed added 11 for Mississippi (13-4, 2-2), which had won nine of its last 10 games.

        The Rebels entered the game shooting an SEC-best 40 percent from behind the 3-point line but made only three of 18 against Kentucky, a dismal 17 percent.

        The Wildcats also forced 18 turnovers and blocked 10 shots, forcing Mississippi to be tentative offensively.

        “A lot of (Kentucky's) offensive problems have come because of their defensive problems,” Mississippi coach Rod Barnes said. “I knew Coach Smith was going to get on those guys and that we were going to be in for a tough night scoring-wise.”

        He couldn't have known how tough.

        Mississippi got called for two early shot-clock violations and made only one of its first 12 shots as the Wildcats went ahead 23-4 midway through the first half.

        “The defensive intensity was there early, and that carried over to the offense,” said Prince, who was 7-of-12 from the field, including four 3-pointers. “We didn't give them the opportunity to get going, and we were able to get a lot of our guys involved at the other end.”

        The Rebels made their second field goal — a 3-pointer by Jason Harrison — with 7:25 to play to cut the margin to 24-8.

        The Wildcats extended the lead to 35-11 with 3:25 remaining. At that point, Mississippi was just 3-of-23 from the field, including 1-of-10 from behind the 3-point line.

        An 11-2 run to end the half pulled Mississippi within 37-22. The Rebels shot 24 percent for the half, going 2-of-12 from 3-point range.

        “You have to give them credit because their defense totally broke us down,” said Harrison, who matched a season-low with only three points. “We had some shots in the first half but couldn't get them to fall.”

        Reed scored on a putback to pull the Rebels within 47-36 with 13:14 to play.

        Again, the Wildcats' defense took over.

        Kentucky held Mississippi without a field goal over the next six minutes as the lead ballooned to 64-38.

        Prince scored on a drive to the basket and swished a long 3-pointer to key a 17-2 run during that stretch to end any chance of a Mississippi comeback.

        The lead never dipped below 20 the rest of the way as the Rebels finished with a season-low 64 points.

        “It all started on the defensive end tonight,” said Kentucky's Cliff Hawkins, who finished with nine points and six assists. “We know we can score, but we have to find ways to stop the other team.

        “We played terrible defense in the games we lost. Coach stresses defense and tells us we have to find ways to hold teams around 30 percent shooting. If we do that, we win.”
       Ole Miss 2242— 64Kentucky 3750— 87

        Attendance—20,540. 3-point goals— Ole Miss 3-18 (Reed 0-1, Fox 0-1, Harper 1-6, Harrison 1-3, Sanders 0-2, Wade 1-5) UK (Prince 4-9, Hawkins 0-1, Fitch 1-4, Bogans 1-4, Carruth 0-2, Carrier 0-1, Daniels 1-2, Chilles 0-1, Hayes 0-1, Sears 0-1). Technical fouls— None. Officials— Gerald Boudreaux, Tim Higgins, Rick Crawford.


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