Sunday, February 9, 2003

UK forces Rebels into many misses


Dominating performances will move Wildcats higher in polls

By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press

[img]
Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith doesn't have much to complain about lately.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
OXFORD, Miss. - If the pollsters are looking for a new No. 1 next week, they might want to consider No. 6 Kentucky.

Erik Daniels scored 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting and Kentucky, playing its 1,000th Southeastern Conference game, overwhelmed Mississippi 80-62 Saturday for its 12th straight victory.

Keith Bogans added 17 points and Gerald Fitch 14 for coach Tubby Smith, who won his 150th game in five-plus seasons at Kentucky.

Kentucky (18-3, 8-0) has its longest winning streak since winning 13 in 1998.

And the Wildcats are drawing rave reviews from the competition.

After watching Kentucky blow out No. 1 Florida earlier in the week, Georgia coach Jim Harrick said the Wildcats reminded him of the great UNLV teams of the early 1990s.

Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes called them the best team the SEC has seen in the last two or three years.

Will all the accolades work against the Wildcats?

"I don't think it will give us a big head," Fitch said. "It can feed our confidence. As long as we don't get cocky with it."

Justin Reed scored 14 points and David Sanders had 13 for the Rebels (12-8, 3-6), who have lost four straight and three SEC home games in a season for the first time since 2000.

Ole Miss had won two of the last three against Kentucky in Oxford. But the Wildcats took the Tad Smith Coliseum crowd out of the game from the start.

The Wildcats scored the first 11 points and never looked back. In fact, it looked like a continuation of their last game, when they routed Florida in Lexington.

"After a big game, we were kind of worried how well we'd respond," said Chuck Hayes, who scored 12 points and had five assists. "But we prepared well."

Kentucky's stifling defense allowed Ole Miss to get off only six shots in the first eight minutes. The Rebels were held scoreless for more than four minutes, and six minutes in they had their top two scorers - Aaron Harper and Reed - on the bench with two fouls each.

"They came out on us so good defensively in the first half, and we got in a hole," Sanders said.

Barnes said, "We were outmatched and they were too tough inside."

Offensively, the Wildcats executed flawlessly against whatever Ole Miss tried.

Two precise backdoor cuts against the Ole Miss man-to-man led to easy layups by Fitch and Daniels at the end of the 11-0 run.

When the Rebels went zone, Kentucky hit the boards for extra shots, including a putback by Daniels to make it 23-11.

Ole Miss managed to cut the lead to nine when Harper's 3-pointer made it 23-14. But the Rebels would go nearly four minutes before scoring again.

Meanwhile, Kentucky was putting up points every way possible.

There was a pretty touch pass from Daniels to Marquis Estill for a dunk. That was followed by a steal by Bogans, who made a short bank shot.

The Wildcats finished off the masterful half by showing off their long-range game. Fitch dropped in a 3 and Bogans hit two to complete a 21-6 run.

"We have a lot of guys that can beat you," Fitch said. "It makes us a tough matchup."

The final first-half numbers told the story. The Wildcats led 44-20, shot 63 percent and held Ole Miss to 26 percent.

The second half was more of the same - a jump hook by Jules Camara, a 3 from the corner by Fitch, another from the same corner by Hayes, and then a driving layup by Daniels to complete a pretty give-and-go with Hayes.

Before clearing the bench with 1:54 left, Kentucky scored on 10 straight possessions. The Wildcats lead never dipped below 17 in the second half.

As far as getting to No. 1, that's not the Wildcats' concern.

"We'll just have to see," Camara said. "We're playing real well right now."

That's an understatement.

KentuckyMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Daniels30101200431120
Hayes325712854012
Estill23224630418
Fitch285822241414
Bogans3171400741117
Hawkins18011324321
Stockton2010000000
Carrier4010000000
Cote6000000000
Azubuike4010000100
Barbour8040031010
Camara14450010208
Totals20033568133021171080
Team rebounds - 1.

MississippiMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Harper253110013538
Reed2551244404014
Allen19110010112
Pearson22230012115
Sanders393767230213
Johnson6000003000
Brown5000000010
Gunn8330040016
Wade24240052234
Rhodes7020010000
Holtz12125802118
Loe8120000012
Totals200214715191915141462
Team rebounds - 3.

Kentucky4436-80
Mississippi2042-62
3-pointers - UK 6-21 (Hayes 1-2, Fitch 2-5, Bogans 3-8, Stockton 0-1, Carrier 0-1, Azubuike 0-1, Barbour 0-3), M 5-15 (Harper 2-8, Reed 0-1, Pearson 1-1, Sanders 1-2, Holtz 1-2, Loe 0-1). Technicals - None. Officials - N/A. Attendance - 8,878.




REDS SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW
Real World Reds? It's a happy home, so far
Outlook by position
Five key questions
Five players who could surprise
Reds Q&A
Spring training roster
2003 spring training schedule
2003 regular season schedule

OTHER BASEBALL NEWS
Rites of spring: Pitchers and catchers report
NL team previews
AL team previews
Torre, Jeter feeling Steinbrenner's heat
Baseball notebook

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
XU: No. 20 Xavier 85, Dayton 77
Daugherty: West simply dominates
Xavier notebook
UC: Sutton, 66, feels same passion as ever
UK: 'Cats forces Rebels into many misses
MIAMI: Juby coming on strong for MU
No. 5 Louisville 81, Houston 55
Michigan State 67, Indiana 62 (OT)
Top 25 roundup: Gators get back to winning
How the Top 25 fared
No. 12 NKU men hold off Quincy

PREP SPORTS
The agony of the blowout
Referees may sympathize, but they don't intervene
Changing the rules could even the scores
Hard work means more play for former Tiger Younts
Sluggish start doesn't keep St. Henry out of title game
Elliott single-handedly whomps NewCath
Saturday's Ohio boys games | Girls | Kentucky
Swimming: Keefe, Myers dynamic duo for Ursuline
CovCath, Pandas face little challenge
Wrestling: Moeller takes GCL title
Wrestling results

LEBRON JAMES
LeBron James saga starting to annoy Roger Bacon
LeBron lights it up with 52 points
LeBron phenomenon raises thorny issues
Innocence Lost: Inside the world of LeBron James

NASCAR
2003 is anybody's race
NASCAR Notebook
Earnhardt charges past Gordon for Shootout win
ARCA: Montgomery scores first career win
ARCA driver winning battle against MS

NBA
Another weekend at Sterny's
M.J. doesn't want ceremonial starting role
Yao feeling pressure of NBA fame
NBA notebook

GOLF
Love on brink of ending two-year winning drought
13-year-old girl makes cut in men's Hawaii Pearl Open

HOCKEY
Avalanche again deny Hull, Red Wings
Blue Jackets could lose top scorers in free agency
Ducks, Crunch in Nationwide tie

HORSE RACING
Man Among Men marks himself as Derby material
Lumpkins, Doser ride to victory at Turfway

TRISTATE SPOTLIGHT
Hughes' Coleman a sharpshooter in college, too
Enquirer Page Two Power rankings