Sunday, February 03, 2002

Three's a charm for UK


Wildcats dominate South Carolina 91-74

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Kentucky has struggled all season with its 3-point shooting.

        That wasn't evident Saturday, as the 10th-ranked Wildcats, the Southeastern Conference's worst team from beyond the arc, went 11-of-22 from long range to beat South Carolina 91-74.

        Cliff Hawkins was 3-of-4 on 3s and Gerald Fitch was 3-of-5 to match his career high with 17 points as Kentucky (15-5, 5-3) won for the sixth time in seven games.

        “I just took the open shots,” said Fitch, who hit a career-high seven field goals and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. “I was shooting the ball with confidence.

        “When I shoot the ball with confidence, everything else follows.”

        Tayshaun Prince was 7-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and finished with 16 points, while Hawkins added 15 points for Kentucky.

        The Wildcats shot 58 percent overall and tied a season high for 3-point shooting (50 percent) despite coming into the game averaging a league-low 28 percent.

        “When you make shots early, it's contagious,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. “When we make shots, we set the tone and are able to control the tempo.”

        Kentucky was just as tough at the defensive end, holding South Carolina (13-8, 3-5) to 44 percent shooting, outrebounding the Gamecocks 38-27 and forcing 18 turnovers.

        “We were beaten by an outstanding Kentucky team today,” South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. “They certainly did whatever they wanted to do, however they wanted to do it whenever they wanted to do it.”

        Chuck Eidson was 6-of-10 from 3-point range and finished with a career-high 25 points to lead South Carolina, which lost its 12th straight to Kentucky.

        Eidson also had seven assists and five rebounds, and Jamel Bradley added 14 points for the Gamecocks, who lost for the fifth time in eight games.

        “We let them dictate the game both offensively and defensively,” Bradley said. “We gave up way too many easy baskets.”

        Prince hit his only two 3-pointers early, giving Kentucky an 8-4 lead with 17:35 remaining. Eidson's first 3, the Gamecocks' third, tied the game at 12 at the 15-minute mark.

        Fitch hit consecutive 3-pointers to put Kentucky up 26-19 with 9:20 to play. Hawkins hit two more from beyond the arc to spark an 11-0 run and extend the Wildcats' lead to 40-23 at the three-minute mark.

        Jules Camara hit two jumpers in the paint in the final 90 seconds to give Kentucky a 46-31 halftime lead. The Wildcats made 63 percent of their shots in the half, including 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.

        “We usually try to get a handle on the defense early on and then work on offense,” Odom said. “We didn't do that today. We had about a six-minute stretch when we didn't score and Kentucky took over from then on.”

        Carlos Powell scored six points and Eidson and Bradley each added 3-pointers to pull South Carolina within 52-45 with 14:32 remaining.

        But an 11-1 run, keyed by a tap-in and a driving layup by Fitch, pushed the lead back to 63-46 with 11:35 to play.

        Keith Bogans' long 3-pointer gave Kentucky a 68-48 lead at the nine-minute mark. Rashaad Carruth's 3-pointer with 7:25 to play put Kentucky up 73-51, and the Gamecocks never got back within 20 until the game's closing moments.

       Kentucky 46 45— 91
       South Carolina 31 43— 74

        Attendance—21,731. 3-point goals—SC 13-32 (Warren 0-3, Bradley 4-9, Eidson 6-10, Howell 0-2, Lucas 1-3, Powell 0-2, Konarc 2-3), UK 11-22 (Prince 2-4, Hawkins 3-4, Fitch 3-5, Bogans 1-3, Carruth 1-3, Chiles 0-1, Camara 1-1, Heissenbuttel 0-1). Technical fouls—None. Officials— Kerry Siffon, Anthony Jordan, Lee Jones.

       



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