On Defense: Kentucky Baffles Lamar With 2-1-1 Zone; On Offense: 'Cats Connect For 63.8 Against Opponent's Zone; Overall: UK Wins 71-56
By Nick Nicholas
Zone by the 'Cats? Really. How did they do?
Let's just say Kentucky's switch to a 2-1-2 played a paramount role in helping UK turn back Lamar, 71-56.
With Kentucky hanging on to a one-point advantage (46-45) with 11:38 remaining. Eddie Sutton decided it was time to make a change. And picture-perfect it was.
Kentucky initiated an 8-3 spurt and coasted to its biggest win (15 points) of the young season.
Another key for the Wildcats' was their hot shooting from the field. Lamar threw different zone varations at UK. Early on the Cardinals's full-court press also gave Kentucky troubles.
More than once did the hometown boys have problems while trying to figure out Lamar's defense. It was not until the end did UK solve the puzzle.
Kentucky's 25-11 run was the decisive blow which kept the visitors at bay. Combined with their pesky new-found zone tactic, the 'Cats upped their record to 3-1.
"We played in spurts again tonight, but overall we played a good game against a good team like Lamar," said Sutton afterwards.
"We turned the ball over a lot in the first half because of Lamar's press," Sutton added. "We played the press a lot better in the second half with some excellent passing from Davendcr and (Rex) Chapman.
Overall, UK turned the ball over 11 times. Ten of those miscues came in the first 20 minutes, however. Lamar committed 14 turnovers (eight in the first half)- The Cardinals' winning flight was shot down due to some poor shooting39.7 percent.
UK, ranked 19th in the country by AP, will now have until Friday to prepare for its annual UKIT. On Friday Boston University and Texas A&M will open the tourney followed by lona against the host Wildcats. The consolation and championship rounds will be played on Saturday night.
The 'Cats' repertoire featured an excellent shooting night from the field. Led by Derrick Miller's three-point arsenal (two of three), UK connected on 14 of 20 which totals a glittering 70 percent. Miller loaded up for 12 points in the initial 20 minutes but was shut out in the second half.
For the game Kentucky shot 63.8 percent from the field (30 of 47). Meanwhile, Lamar didn't throw in the towel. Twice the Cardinals erased considerable spreads in Rupp Arenaa difficult uphill task to the average opposition.
Junior Ed Davender responded with a team-high 16 points. He also pulled down six defensive boards and handed out five assists.
Lamar's outstanding big man, James Gulley, was a force underneath. The 6-foot-8 forward muscled in 24 points while snaring 12. Both figures were game-high marks.
"At the end of the game things kinda snowballed," said Lamar head man Tom Abatemarco. "We are a good team. They (Wildcats) hit 70 percent in the first half but we were down only a couple. At the half, Gulley was exhausted."
Gulley was held to 10 points in the second half and was shutout during the final 4:40 of play.
"This is the toughest game he has had." added Abatemarco."and I should have rested him more."
James Blackmon hit the double-digit column for the initial time this season. He connected on 6 of 9 from the field on his way to a 13-point performance.
Kentucky's Rob Lock had a fine overall game as he gave UK 30 minutes of consistent play. Lock contributed a strong showing last Saturday. And it couldn't have come any sooner.
The 6-10 junior pumped in 12 points while being credited with two assists and two steals to boot. Earlier in the campaign gainst Texas Tech, on a couple of occasions Lock received boos from UK's student section. Obviously, his efforts were appreciated by his classmates, drawing a standing "O" late in the contest. This may be a night for him to build on.
"I knew I could be play a lot better than I was playing," said Lock. "I feel good about tonight."
"Rob played a good game and we are glad to see that Rob is playing up to his potential," commented Sutton. "I feel that Rob can play like that all the time."
UK Run Late In Second Half Turns Back Cardinals
Lamar was no patsy. The represenatives of the Southland Conference only trailed 46-41 with 13:28 left. A 14-foot turnaround connection from Gulley followed by a 16-foot jumper from senior guard James Nance quickly pulled Lamar within one, 46^15.
Having only nine players available (two non-scholarship) Sutton was forced to shift defenses and play a 2-1-2 alignfnent. It worked.
"The changing point of the game came when Sutton went to a zone," said Abatemarco. "We didn't expect him to use it. It changed the whole complexion of the game.
"Davender, Blackmon and Lock then broke the game open."
Lock's eight-foot turnaround keyed a 6-to-zip Wildcat run. Baskets by Davender and Richard Madison made the count 52-45 in favor of UK. By this time Kentucky's 2-1-2 zone was in effect (in his postgame conference Abatemarco called it a matchup).
When down by bunches it's time to go to three-pointer. Lamar didn't hesitate as DeWayne Brown canned his bonus attempt from the right side. After a layup by Davender, again Lamar cut the lead to four (54-50) with 4:40 remaining. This time it was a Gulley layin which did the trick. However, Gulley's easy basket, his 23rd and 24th points on the night, was also his last.
In fact, Lamar was so confused it didn't score a point until only 24 seconds remained on the clock. Nance hit a three-pointer but by that time UK led 67-53.
The rout started like this. A nifty pass in the paint from the kid, Rex Chapman, to Davender upped the margin to six points. Davender was fouled on the play and com-
pleted the three-point sequence with a charity toss. He was the only 'Cat who could say they had a successful night from the line, 5 of 7. Kentucky could manage just six of 12 attempts from the stripe.
Nevertheless, as they say in Bluegrass Country UK was on its way to the winner's circle.
Layups by Lock and Blackmon (2) sandwiched between a 10-foot jumper by UK's center broke things wide open. Credit Madison and Davender for two assists apiece during this eight-to-zero stretch.
Davender's long arching alley-oop connection to a soaring Chapman was sweet icing on the cake. By now the game was over as only 33 ticks remained on the scoreboard showing UK ahead 67-50.
"UK is an underrated team," the Lamar coach noted. "It is not the Kentucky team of the past with the 6-11 players but it has finesse players. It will be one of the three or four top teams in the SEC and will get an NCAA bid."
'Cats' Run And Hide, Cards Almost Catch Up At Half
Despite UK's hot pistol in the first half, Lamar trailed only by two at intermission (33-31). Sutton witnessed his troops lose a 31-22 lead in the final 4:07. If not for Miller's 19-footer in the final minute of play, the contest would have been tied at halftime.
The game started with each team hitting a three-pointer. For the first 11:21 the biggest lead for either team was three points.
A Miller three-pointer gave the 'Cats their biggest lead to date 22-18 at the 8:29 mark. Gulley narrowed the gap back to two with a four-foot jumper in the lane. Before the half ended Gulley would score eight of Lamar's last 11 tallies.
UK would eventually grabbed a nine-point cushion and seemed headed for a comfortable halftime lead (31-22). But two baskets underneath by Gulley and a three-pointer
by Danny Gauthier helped Lamar climb back in the contest at intermission.
"We did have a little trouble getting started tonight," said Sutton, because Lamar was playing like a knuckle ball pitcher. They kept us off balance early in the game."
Kentucky's Ccdric Jenkins had his cast removed last Thursday (Dec. 11) and has been given the green light to shoot free throws. If you'll recall, he was diagnosed in early November as having a stress fracture. Meanwhile, Jenkins has been instructed to still use his crutches when walking. UK team physician Michael Ray says Jenkins is making "good progress." If everything goes as planned Jenkins could be back by the first of the year. Jenkins, with his long arms, formed a capital "Y" concluding the K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y cheer at midcourt. . .From 9:01 in the second half till 5:20 remaining UK didn't score a point. Kentucky's lead only slipped from 52-45 to 52^8. Lamar was also shut out for a great length of timefrom 4:03 till 24 seconds remain-
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