Friday, March 28, 2003

Kentucky 63, Wisconsin 57


Estill takes over scoring for injured Bogans

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MINNEAPOLIS - Now here was adversity. An injury that knocked Kentucky's senior leader out of the game. A hostile crowd. Late-game pressure.

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Marquis Estill, who rescued the Wildcats after Keith Bogans (right) got hurt, celebrates their victory.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Yet the Wildcats wouldn't wilt.

Defense and final-minute poise Thursday willed them a 63-57 victory over Wisconsin in a Midwest Region semifinal in the Metrodome, extending both their winning streak and their magical season.

"This tells me about the heart of this team, the versatility of this team," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We know any of our guys can come in and get the job done."

Top-ranked UK (32-3) will face Marquette, which beat Pittsburgh 77-74, in the regional final at 4:40 p.m. Saturday. UK may have to play without senior guard and leading scorer Keith Bogans, who is listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain.

This is UK's first Elite Eight appearance since 1999, and it will play Saturday for its first Final Four appearance since 1998.

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Estill shoots over Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson.
(Gary Landers photo)
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UK extended its winning streak to 26 games, tied for the third-longest in school history. A win Saturday would match a 27-game run in the 1996-97 season as its longest of the past 48 years.

Thursday, playing the second half without Bogans, the Wildcats exploited their advantage in the low post and fended off a series of comeback bids by the fifth-seeded Badgers (24-8).

UK got a career-high 28 points from senior center Marquis Estill - the most by a Wildcat this season - and outrebounded Wisconsin 18-9 in the second half.

"If you play Marquis one-on-one, he's got great hands, and he's going to score on you," Smith said. "With Keith out, he's our primary option. And he delivered."

The Wildcats held Wisconsin to 42.2 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers - five more than it averages.

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Bogans and trainer David Kindy check Bogan's injured ankle.
(Gary Landers photo)
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"This was a good game for us," UK sophomore forward Chuck Hayes said. "It shows we can win down in the trenches."

UK didn't trail a single second in its first two NCAA games, but it did during most of the first half Thursday.

Wisconsin last led at 40-38 five minutes into the second half. UK took the lead back and held it but never pushed that lead above six points.

Bogans had hurt his left ankle late in the first half and didn't play the entire second half. Yet UK made 12 of 22 second-half shots to maintain its edge.

"We didn't make many adjustments (with Bogans out)," UK junior forward Erik Daniels said. "We just kept getting it to Marquis. That was the game plan from the start."

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Estill hauls down a rebound.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Wisconsin started its last, best run with a Devin Harris 3-pointer with 3:42 left. UK's defense held on the next possession. But then Wisconsin's Freddie Owens stole the ball from Cliff Hawkins, and Mike Wilkinson drove for a score on the other end: 56-55 with 1:34 left.

UK worked the ball to Estill, who missed a short turnaround shot, but Daniels tipped it in with 1:04 left.

Wilkinson walked on the other end. Hawkins got a bounce pass in to Estill, who was fouled. He made one of two foul shots.

Wilkinson drew a foul but missed both of his free throws. Daniels made a free throw with 21 seconds left, then Hayes picked off a Harris pass to ice it.

UK's defense, as usual, made the difference. From the time 6:56 remained until just six seconds remained, Wisconsin scored on just two of eight possessions.

"We did what we had to do down the stretch," Hawkins said.

UK Notebook: Bogans questionable for Marquette

WisconsinMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Harris366923344415
Tucker36142270324
Wilkinson3541147315213
Penney4061234632420
Owens27180020212
Wade3000000020
Helmigk3000000000
Mader5000010400
Totals20019451116249201557
Team rebounds: 2.

KentuckyMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Daniels32235662139
Estill321218410603128
Hayes28250070224
Fitch31371211227
Bogans15260021015
Hawkins28142212334
Azubuike9020001310
Barbour15022221012
Camara10220231304
Totals20024491424289171463
Team rebounds: 5.

Wisconsin2829-57
Kentucky3231-63
Attendance-28,168. 3-point goals-Wisconsin 8-21 (Harris 1-2, Tucker 0-1, Wilkinson 1-5, Penney 5-7, Owens 0-5, Wade 1-1); Kentucky 1-5 (Fitch 0-1, Bogans 1-2, Hawkins 0-1, Azubuike 0-1). Technical fouls-none.




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