Sunday, March 16, 2003

Daniels' scary fall gives fans pause

UK notebook: Princeton grad suffers minor wrist injury

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kentucky's Erik Daniels (14) tries to hang on to the rim after dunking over Auburn's Brandon Robinson (13). Daniels fell hard onto the court floor but later returned to the game.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
NEW ORLEANS - Erik Daniels' first concern was his wrist. His second was his mother.

After realizing he would be OK, the Kentucky junior forward knew he had to calm his mother, Carmen.

"I saw my mom coming after me (toward the locker room)," Daniels said. "I had to make sure I told her I was all right. She worries a lot."

Saturday, she wasn't the only one. The Wildcats held their collective breath when the Princeton High grad landed hard after a dunk.

He was examined by team doctors and diagnosed with a bruised right (non-shooting) wrist.

"It was scary," UK senior Keith Bogans said of Daniels' fall.

Said sophomore Chuck Hayes: "If any player gets hurt - from Erik down to the 12th man . . . we're all family."

Daniels was also carrying UK to that point. He had 11 of UK's 29 points and had just given his team the lead when he got hurt with 4:01 left in the half. He had stolen a pass and dunked it, but his hands slipped a bit on the rim and he fell parallel to the ground.

When Daniels returned to the court, the UK fans gave him a loud ovation. UK promptly scored five consecutive points to tie the game.

Daniels finished with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds.

He is shooting 57.7 percent this season. That's a big improvement on his 49.3 percent total of his first two seasons.

MR. DEFENSE: Bogans used to have a reputation as solely a scorer. As a senior leader, he has certainly rounded out his game.

Saturday, one of the turning points came when Bogans asked at halftime to be switched onto guarding Auburn star Marquis Daniels. Daniels, who had 12 points and five assists in the first half - with Erik Daniels primarily guarding him - was held to four points (1-of-7 shooting) and no assists after halftime.

"Keith made it a point to shut down Daniels, and we fed off that," Erik Daniels said.

Bogans has made the request to switch onto a hot scorer a few times this season, usually with great results. "It's something where if I feel a guy's playing well and I can guard him, I want to ask for the opportunity," he said.

CLIMBING: Bogans has 1,850 career points, moving into fifth place on the list of UK's all-time scorers. He passed Jamal Mashburn (1991-93), who had 1,843. Next to catch is Tony Delk at 1,890 points.

CAT TALES: The Wildcats have won 18 of their past 19 games against Auburn. . . . Coach Tubby Smith is 30-7 in the month of March while at UK. That includes an 11-2 mark in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. . . . UK is 28-3 in this event the past 12 years, going for its ninth title in that time.

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