Sunday, February 16, 2003

UK Notebook


Barbour coming around

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEXINGTON - Kentucky's Antwain Barbour began the season as a starter but lately had found himself the eighth player in a seven-man rotation. His personal slide, greatly affected by a broken hand that cost him one month of the season, had shaken his confidence.

Saturday was a huge step forward. Playing 21 minutes - his most since December - the junior forward totaled six points (3-of-4 shooting) with career highs of six rebounds and three steals in the Wildcats' 68-57 victory over Louisiana State.

"I had gained a lot of confidence in practice lately," Barbour said. "This is something for me to build on."

Barbour said the injury had been the first serious one of his career. After he returned, Barbour said he began to worry because he wasn't getting minutes.

"Most (newcomers) need those minutes to keep getting better," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "It's hard when the guys on the court are playing so well."

Said Barbour: "Now I know to just try to help however I can - picking up loose balls, getting on the floor. This is fun. ... I'm going out and just playing."

MR. CLUTCH: UK's Gerald Fitch continued a season-long trend of big second-half showings by scoring 13 of his 15 points after halftime, including three 3-pointers. He averages 4.6 points in the first halves of games; 8.0 in the second halves.

"When I have a bad first half, I seem to focus more in the second half," he said. "Hitting those 3s gave me more confidence."

KEY RUN: Leading 34-30, UK went on a 20-5 run. Most of that stretch was played with a small lineup, as centers Marquis Estill and Jules Camara each was out with four fouls.

STREAK STATS: The Wildcats' 14-game winning streak matches another of that length in 1996-97 as the longest single-season streak since a school-record 27-game run in 1995-96.

If counting streaks that overlap two seasons, UK won 17 consecutive games when it claimed the last 13 of 1997-98 and the first four of the following season.

CAT TALES: UK has posted its 13th consecutive 20-victory season. It's the 38th 20-victory campaign in the Wildcats' 100-season history. For Smith, it's the 10th season in a row, two each coming at Tulsa and Georgia.

UP NEXT: UK visits Arkansas (7-14, 2-8 SEC) on Wednesday.

E-mail nschmidt@enquirer.com

UK notebook




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