Friday, January 3, 2003
Wildcats' theme: Defense, defense
UK harasses Alcorn State in blowout
The Associated Press
LEXINGTON - Kentucky coach Tubby Smith focused on defense in practices this week, and the move produced the Wildcats' most lopsided win of the season.
Alcorn State's Steve Wallace bends over to tie up Kentucky's Antwain Barbour.
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Chuck Hayes scored 15 points and 20th-ranked Kentucky forced a season-high 28 turnovers in a 94-63 victory over Alcorn State on Thursday.
Smith was much happier than he was after Tennessee State shot 52 percent in a 115-87 loss to UK on Monday night.
The Wildcats had two practices this week devoted entirely to defensive fundamentals.
"We went back to basics, like active hands, getting feet in the right position and challenging the ball," Smith said. "We did a much better job defensively, as far as pressing the ball and forcing turnovers. We had kind of gotten away from that the last few games."
Erik Daniels had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats (8-3), who shot 52 percent (34-of-65) and won easily despite getting outrebounded 40-36.
UK took a 7-0 lead before Alcorn State attempted a shot. The Wildcats hit nine of their first 12 shots, most inside, and led 21-7 with 13:51 left in the first half.
"I thought our guards got a little intimidated," Alcorn State coach Davey Whitney said. "They (UK) got off to a fast start, and we couldn't recover."
Kentucky's Jules Camara is fouled by Alcorn State's Brian Jackson.
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By the midpoint of the half, UK led 30-14 and Smith had used every player on his bench except freshman Brandon Stockton and walk-ons Matt Heissenbuttel, Preston LeMaster and Ravi Moss.
The Wildcats then went cold, missing 12 of their next 16 shots.
The Braves got within nine points, but sophomore reserve Josh Carrier hit consecutive 3-pointers to restore UK's double-digit lead.
"Coach got our attention in practice, and I don't think defensive intensity is going to be a problem the rest of the season," Carrier said.
The Wildcats built their lead to 33 by the 10-minute mark of the second half. Smith put Stockton, Heissenbuttel, LeMaster and Moss in the game by the four-minute mark, with UK up 83-46.
"These are the kinds of games we can build on," said Wildcats senior center Jules Camara, who blocked four shots. "We haven't been playing great at the defensive end. Teams have been shooting too high a percentage."
Smith was pleased his team carried its defensive effort to the game's end. Hayes said that was part of the message from this week's practices.
"Coach isn't going to let us take it easy on defense anymore," he said. "If he sees guys dogging it, they're going to be sitting next to him on the bench."
UK plays Ohio on Saturday at U.S. Bank Arena before starting its Southeastern Conference schedule next week.
Smith doesn't want his players settling into roles. He wants them more focused on playing with effort when they get into games.
"I don't want them comfortable; I want them ready to play," Smith said. "I just want them playing with intensity, every minute they're out on the floor. You need to have interchangeable parts."
Team rebounds - 6.
Team rebounds - 0.
3-pointers-AS 5-14 (Callans 0-1, Harris 0-1, Cable 0-2, Jones 2-3, Cole 2-4, Jackson 1-2, Frazier 0-1), UK 7-20 (Hayes 0-1, Fitch 0-1, Bogans 1-5, Hawkins 2-2, Cote 0-1, Heissenbuttel 0-2, Barbour 0-1, Carrier 2-4, Stockton 1-1, LeMaster 1-2). Technical-Estill. Officials-Larry Rose, Kyle Chambers, Sean Hull. A-20,000.
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