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End Of The Line
Chapman's Career-High 30 Points, Edge In Statistics Not Enough For Kentucky As Villanova, Birmingham Jinx Drop 'Cats From Tourney 80-74
By TCP Editor/Publisher Oscar Combs
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — And the clock struck midnight. No more tomorrow, no more hoops, no more Final Four dreams. The End!
It was a bitter shock as the members of this 1987 Kentucky team deeply rooted with five seniors walked off the floor for the final time in Wildcat uniforms.
It wasn't a pleasant sight. But then, more often than not, that's the way past Wildcat teams have left this particular basketball arena in recent years.
When the scoreboard clock reached 0:00, the score read VILLANOVA 80, KENTUCKY 74.
Heads dropped. Their weary legs carried their tired bodies toward a sweaty locker room for one last postgame reunion. There would be no more pep talks about the next game, no more rallies about the rewards of a trip to Kansas City. Life in the fast lane came to an abrupt halt.
'Other' Wildcats Played Almost To Perfection
No one hurt more than Kentucky coach Eddie Sutton. And what did he have to say?
"I gave a little philosophy like I do in the last game of the year," Sutton told reporters minutes after the game. "I told them that throughout their lives you're gonna have days when you meet adversity and many times it depends on how you react to that. And they need to react very positively in games past that we lost and I hope that they learned a lot of valuable lessons."
It certainly was one of those nights when nothing went right for Kentucky. The opposite held true for Villanova, being tagged by some as a team of destiny.
A game of mismatches.
An event where the Wildcats were forced to play almost half a game without their mainstay—Winston Bennett—on a team which sorely lacked a consistent inside game.
It was a game in which a team (UK) was one of the nation's top 10 free throw shooting clubs, only to be outgunned by a team of lesser accuracy on the season when the opponent failed to miss a single try in 17 attempts.
It was a game in which two (Eric Manuel and Ed Davender) of UK's finest shooters of the past three weeks failed to hit 25 percent of their field goals.
It was a game in which the winner figured to have more rebounds and more field goal attempts. UK won both statistical battles but still lost the war.
It just wan't meant to be.
Birmingham-Jefferson Claims Another Victim
The Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center has been unkind to the 'Cats for more than a decade.
It all started back in 1979 during the postseason SEC tournament. The Wildcats reeled off three straight victories only to be defeated by Tennessee in overtime of the championship game.
A year later, UK lost to LSU in the championship contest. The following season, Vanderbilt shocked the 'Cats 60-55 in the first round. After a one-year break, the SEC tourney returned and saw the 'Cats get upset in the first game by Alabama, 69-64.
It was another two years before the tourney went back to the Alabama city and again UK lost in the first round, this time to Florida by a score of 58-55.
The only break of luck over the past 10 years came in 1984 when the 'Cats earned a first-round bye in the NCAA and then defeated Brigham Young in Birmingham to advance to the regional semis in Knoxville. That could have been a disaster had not homestan-ding UAB been upset by BYU in the first round.
If you've guessed that Birmingham has not been among UK's favorite arenas, you're not wrong.
Thursday night, the Birmingham facility continued its jinx on the Wildcats and extended its bad luck to the Wildcats' sister institution—the Louisville Cardinals as they were beaten 108-98 by Oklahoma.
Chapman's Career-High 30 Points Kept It Close
Thanks to Rex Chapman's career-high 30 points, the Wildcats made a game of it most of the way, especially in the first half before UK lost Bennett at 4:42 when he picked up his third person foul.
At the time, the two clubs were knotted at 29-29 in game that had see-sawed the first 16 minutes. After that, Villanova went on a 14-3 tear to take command of a 43-32 lead at the halfway mark and UK never caught up.
Kentucky came storming out of the gate as Chapman was scoring from all over the floor to offset the balanced scoring of Tom Greis, Doug West and Mark Plansky. Chapman hit four of his first
five shots (two three-pointers), but the 'Cats still trailed 17-15 at the 14:23 mark because 7-2 Greis was scoring at will with short jump hooks inside the paint and West was hitting long-range bombs.
Villanova left its zone temporarily to cover Chapman and Bennett went to work inside, picking up 10 quick points before being charged with his third foul at 4:42.
It was the beginning of the end.
With Bennett On Bench, 'Cats Went Under
Villanova rattled off seven straight points as Plansky hit a three-pointer, Kenny Wilson canned a couple free throws and West canned a 12-footer after Taylor drew a charging foul on Rob Lock for a 36-29 lead.
Chapman, who had gone scoreless since 14:05 mark and had taken only one shot, canned a three-pointer from the top of the key to close the gap to 36-31, but Villanova then retaliated with another seven-point run on a three-pointer by Plansky, a seven-footer by West and a pair of free throws by Gary Massey.
In the second half, Lock returned with fire in his eyes. He immediately ignited the 'Cats with baseline jumper at 19:32, but Bennett committed his fourth personal foul at 19:18 and went to the pine. It would prove to be a very critical mistake for the 'Cats.
Although UK came at Villanova hard, the Big East 'Cats refused to wilt, withstanding each Wildcat surge.
Kentucky closed the gap to seven (53-46) at 15:42 on a Lock slam, but 'Nova went back on top by nine on Greis' turnaround jumper.
With 8:54 left, Chapman tickled the nets for a three-pointer and narrowed the deficit to four (63-59), but again 'Nova pulled back out, this time on a three-pointer by Wilson from 21 feet out.
Bennett finally got back in at 6:53 and UK trailing 68-61, but 'Nova kept hitting the free throws and took time off the shot clock each trip down the floor.
UK made one last run at Villanova at 2:04 as LeRon Ellis hit a free throw and Bennett canned a pair to narrow the score to 74-70.
Late Kentucky Run Was Too Little, Too Late
But just as they had all night, the 'Nova Cats responded with four free throws from West and Plansky to put Villanova up again by eight (78-70). Bennett hit a shot jumper off a missed shot before Wilson hit another pair of free throws and Chapman slammed home an uncontested dunk at 0:06 to make the final score of 80-74.
Villanova, which didn't score a field goal the last 2:23 of the game, sealed the victory with six straight free tosses.
West paced the Villanova attack with 20 points followed by Plan-sky's 16 and Wilson's 15. Also in double-figure scoring were Taylor with 11 and Greis with 10.
Chapman's 30 spearheaded the UK attack followed by Bennett with 16 and Lock with 11 points. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 31-27, with Manuel tying Taylor and Plansky for game honors with eight each.
Villanova shot 56.9 percent from the field on 29 of 51 while UK hit 45.8 percent on 27 of 59. That basically told the story. UK had
11 turnovers to nine for Villanova.
The victory improved Villanova's record to 24-12 and UK bowed out of 1987 action with a 27-6 mark. Villanova went on to lose to Oklahoma in the regional finals by 19.
To 'Nova coach Rollie Massimino, it was more of 'Nova playing great than UK playing poorly.
"I felt that Kentucky played a superb game," said Massimino. "It's the best defensive effort this team (Villanova) has ever seen. They (UK) changed up defenses tremendously well."
Concerning Chapman's career-high 30 points, the 'Nova coach said, "It doesn't seem like we did a very good job on him, but he's a great, great basketball player and we did everything we could."
The key? "We did a good job in stopping their inside game," said Massimino. "I have to give our kids a tremendous amount of credit."
UK's Eddie Sutton pointed to the final seven minutes of the first half as the reason for the loss.
"We got ourselves in a jam during those last seven or eight minutes of the first half," said Sutton. "We made some mistakes on the offensive end and took a couple bad shots. We hurt ourselves.
"Anything you get behind a club like Villanova you're asking for problems," continued Sutton. "They (Villanova) shot the ball extremely well. It seemed like in the second half every time we tried to make a run, someone on their club would answer it. We just never could quite get over the jump and we played catchup basketball all evening."
One of the puzzling stats was in the rebounding department where UK won the battle 31-27, but in a strange way. The 'Cats had only
12 defensive rebounds but 17 on the offensive end while Villanova gathered in 17 defensive rebounds but only nine offensive boards. The difference, of course, was that UK missed fired on 32 field goal attempts while Villanova failed to connect on only 22 shots.
Time Kentucky Score Villanova
19:42 Chapman 21 ft. 3-0
19:07 3-2 West 12 ft.
18:38 3-4 Wilson 18 ft.
18:21 Chapman 21 ft. 6-4
17:55 6-6 Greis 8 ft.
17:29 6-8 Greis 4 ft..
16:53 6-10 Taylor putback
16:36 Bennett 16 ft.,FT 9-10
15:40 9-12 Greis 6 ft. hook
15:25 Lock dunk 11-12
15:08 11-14 Taylor FT, FT
14:55 Chapman 12 ft. 13-14
14:23 13-17 West 20 ft.
14:05 Chapman 17 ft. 15-17
13:04 15-20 Taylor lay-in, FT
12:44 Bennett tip-in 17-20
10:52 Bennett 13 feet 19-20
9:45 Davender FT, FT 21-20
B:07 21-23 West 21 ft.
7:44 Manuel 20 ft. 24-23
7:27 24-25 West 11 ft.
6:55 24-27 Massey lay-in
6:36 Bennett tip-in,FT 27-27
5:56 27-29 Plansky FT, FT
5:13 Davender lay-in 29-29
4:29 29-32 PLansky 20 ft.
3:50 29-34 Wilson FT, FT
3:09 29-36 West 12 ft.
2:16 Chapman 25 ft. 32-36
1:59 ' 32-39 Plansky 22 ft
1:05 ¦ 32-41 West 7 ft
:49 32-431 Massey FT, FT
19:32 Lock 8 ft. 34-431
19:06 34-45 West 15 ft.
18:46 Lock putback 36-45
18:32 36-47 Massey lay-in
18:04 36-49 Plansky 12 ft.
17:44 Lock FT, FTA 38-49
17:14 Chapman 14 ft. 39-49
17:02 39-51 Massey lay-in
16:43 Davender 5 ft. 41-51
16:23 41-53 Taylor tip-in
16:05 Chapman 21 ft. 44-53
15:42 Lock dunk 46-53
15:06 46-55 Greis 7 ft.
13:54 Chapman 8 ft. 48-55
13:21 48-57 Wilson 17 ft.
12:58 Manuet 23 ft. 51-57
11:59 51-59 Wilson FT, FT
11:31 Chapman FT, FT 53-59
10:16 53-61 Plansky 15 ft.
10:00 Manuel 24 ft. 56-61
9:16 56-63 Wilson 13 ft.
8:54 Chapman 20 ft. 59-63
B:32 59-66 Wilson 21 ft.
8:15 Lock 4 ft. 61-66
6:53 61-68 Greis 12 ft.
5:28 Ellis FT, FTA 62-68
5:09 62-70 Taylor FT, FT
3:47, 62-72 West 8 ft
3:26 Bennett 14 ft. 64-72
3:07 Chapman lay-in 66-72
2:24 67-74 Plansky 12 ft.
2:04 Ellis FT, FTA 68-74
2:04 Bennett FT, FT 70-74
1:09 70-76 West 12 ft.
:33 70-78 Plansky FT, FT
:23 Bennett i ft. 72-78
:11 72-80 Wilson FT, FT
:06 Chapman dunk 74-80
—Cats' Pause chart