Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Mission of UK's Daniels: Contain Auburn's Daniels

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Auburn's Marquis Daniels and Kentucky's Erik Daniels aren't related, but they'll know each other well by the end of tonight's game between the teams in Rupp Arena.

• Tipoff: 7 p.m. today, Rupp Arena (23,000), Lexington.
• Records: UK 13-3 (3-0 SEC), Auburn 15-2 (4-0).
• Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).
• TV: Pay-per-view, Insight and Time Warner digital cable.
• Series: UK leads 75-17.
• Line: UK by 9 1/2
The Wildcats' Daniels, a 6-foot-8 forward from Princeton High, will guard the Tigers' Daniels, a 6-6 forward who's the Southeastern Conference's second-leading scorer and reigning player of the week.

"He's the most important guy on their team," Kentucky's Daniels said. "We don't want him to get hot and get his team going."

But as Kentucky coach Tubby Smith did in an 88-73 win over the No.10 Irish on Saturday, he won't rely on just one Wildcat to shut down an opponent's best player.

Guards Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins alternated harassing Irish point guard Chris Thomas into nine turnovers. Smith said 6-6 Chuck Hayes and perhaps even 6-5 junior Antwain Barbour will see time on Daniels, who's averaging 19 points.

"He's a candidate for (SEC) Player of the Year. He's a very difficult matchup," Smith said.

Daniels isn't all that concerns Smith about the No.24 Tigers (15-2, 4-0), who have won nine in a row.

Auburn leads the SEC in field goal percentage defense (38 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (29 percent), and Smith said the Tigers are more athletic than any team the eighth-ranked Wildcats (13-3, 3-0) have faced all season.

Auburn has four starters back from last season's 12-16 squad, but Smith said this season's team hardly resembles the one UK beat 69-62.

"They're doing a lot of things better than they did last year," Smith said. "They've got an outstanding defense, and they've got a lot of weapons. A lot of guys can beat you in a lot of different ways."

Marquis Daniels, who has hit double figures in all 17 games this season, said the Tigers also have added confidence this season.

"We can play with anybody in the nation," Daniels said. "A lot of people are realizing we're not a fluke."

PAY-PER-VIEW: The game is being telecast by Fox Sports South, and neither Time Warner in Cincinnati nor Insight in Northern Kentucky has access to the telecast. Yet both have a pay-per-view option for their digital subscribers. Insight Digital customers can buy the game for $9.99 and watch it on Ch.133. Call 859-431-0300 to order. Time Warner Digital customers can access it and watch it on Ch.332 by buying the ESPN Full Court half-season package for $49. Call 513-469-1112 to order.

Chuck HayesSo.6-69.0
Erik DanielsJr.6-810.4
Marquis EstillSr.6-911.6
Keith BogansSr.6-517.3
Gerald FitchJr.6-311.9
Coach: Tubby Smith (145-46, sixth season; 269-108 overall).

Marquis DanielsSr.6-619.1
M. KillingsworthSo.6-715.2
Kyle DavisJr.6-107.4
Derrick BirdSr.6-410.6
Lewis MonroeSo.6-56.0
Coach: Cliff Ellis (165-101, ninth season; 513-313 overall).

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