- Wednesday, December 1 1982 -
Kentucky - 58 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Ranked 3rd by AP]
Notre Dame - 45 (Head Coach: Digger Phelps) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 24, Notre Dame 19
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Game Writeup - by John McGill, Louisville Courier-Journal
Sizzling UK shooting cooks Irish Upset Bid
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - There were 15 seconds left in the game when Kentucky's Dirk Minniefield jumped, stretched his arms and came within a whisker of intercepting a Notre Dame pass. As the ball sailed off his fingertips out of bounds, Minniefield grinned like a Cheshire cat.
"Hoooo baby!" he yelled, clinching both fits. "Hoooooooo, baby!"
Had he stolen the ball, Minniefield would have had a clear path to the basket - a glide path, if you will, for a soaring, slamming, close-the-coffin dunk on the Irish.
"You know it." Minniefield said once the game ended "I was gonna try to tear the rim down."
Instead, UK settled for tearing the house down - silencing the boisterous, toilet-paper-wielding Notre Dame crowd with uncommon precision and winning 58-45 last night.
As he raced out of the boisterous Kentucky locker room for a radio interview, Minniefield was wearing a Kentucky Fried Chicken hat - just like the thousands atop the heads in the Notre Dame student jeering - uh, cheering - section.
"They wanted home cookin'," Minniefield said, "and that's what we gave 'em."
UK was cooking, all right. With Minniefield doing a masterful job as a field general and Derrick Hord scoring a game-high 18 points, the Wildcats hit 75 percent of their shots from the field.
They hit 12 of 16 in the first half to fend off Notre Dame's deliberate attack and led 24-19, then dropped in their first five shots of the second half - nary a one in close - to jump ahead by 11 and exit laughing.
"They are a great team," said Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps.
Nobody could argue after last night Hord, who missed only one of eight floor shots, played the full 40 minutes. In addition to his scoring, the 6-foot-6 senior forward had five assists, two steals and one blocked shot Hord was named the winner of the Bernie Shively Award as the game's most valuable player.
But MVPs were everywhere Minniefield - who was perfect as a shooter in three attempts from the field and two from the foul line - added five assists and was nearly flawless (one turnover) in directing the UK attack. If courtside observers thought it was the senior guar's best-ever job as floor leader, Minniefield wasn't arguing.
"I haven't had that good a game since I've been here," he said. "I'm a rooter. I'm the cheerleader. And all that noise just fired me up. Hey they want to throw toilet paper, we'll just dunk it in their face go at 'em."
Everything was in Notre Dame's face. Eight UK players saw action - including freshman forward Kenny Walker, whose 21 minutes were the fifth-highest of the bunch - and everybody contributed.
Guard Jim Master, who started, hit four of six shots, including three from downtown in UK's five-for-five start in the second half. Joining Master with eight points was Minniefield, while forwards Walker and Charles Hurt (hitting six of seven shots between them) added six points each Guard Dicky Beal and center Melvin Turpin each added five.
UK, which went on to hit eight of its first nine shots in the second half (putting it at 80 percent, 20 of 25, with only 12 minutes left in the game), finished 24 of 32.
The shooting reflected the poise that Kentucky maintained in its first-ever trip to the Athletic and Convocation center, where the Irish held a 174-36 record entering the game.
"This team looked better on the road than any team since I've been here," said Hurt, a senior.
"It just felt good tonight," said Hord. "It just felt like another game. The crowd really wasn't the factor. I thought it would be."
Would Hord be reluctant ever to play here again? He smiled.
"With this ballclub here, no," he said.
The Irish (2-1) didn't try the all-out freeze that pushed Kentucky into an overtime situation last season, when the Cats won 34-28. But Phelps spread out his offense much of the first half, using a shuffle offense and exploiting the talents of guard John Paxson, who finished with 16 points.
UK was clinging to a 20-19 lead, in fact, when Minniefield fed Hurt on the baseline. Hurt banked in a short turnaround to make it 22-19 with 2:12 left in the half. After an Irish miss, UK worked for a final shot. With seven seconds left, Minniefield drove the baseline and was fouled. UK got the ball out of bounds.
Minniefield threw the ball in to Walker, who immediately shoveled it back. From 12 feet on the baseline, Minniefield hit to make it 24-19.
UK outscored Notre Dame 8-4 to open the half. Master hitting a 22-foot angle shot, a spinning 19-footer from the side and a corner shot off the transition offense. Turpin sandwiched in a nice 13-foot turnaround jumper. that made it 32-18.
Hord made it five straight with an 18-foot angle shot for a 34-23 edge, and Kentucky was well on its way to its second win in as many starts.
Notre Dame got within five points at 40-35 on Paxson's third straight jumper, but Hord hit a 15-footer to make it 42-35. Things got sloppy for the next couple of minutes, but Walker's short baseline shot with 5:06 left extended UK's lead to 44-35.
The Cats hit six of eight free throws late in the game to go up 49-37. Notre Dame decided to press.
"We just loved it," said Beal, "when they pressed."
No wonder Hord, despite being hammered by 6-9 Tim Kempton, completed a three-point play off a full-court runout on an inbounds play. And with 32 seconds left, Walker broke behind the press for a pass and unloaded a vicious two-handed dunk. Notre Dame's Ken Barlow hit him hard in mid-air, but Walker was unscathed. Barlow crashed to the floor.
"That," said Walker, "was great. I was just going to put it away, no matter what."
Kentucky's veteran ways showed even in Walker.
"We were real loose," he said. He smiled.
"We just did what coach Hall told us to do. He said to go and play our game and kick their butts."
Home-Court Advantage Fails for Irish Louisville Courier-Journal by Billy Reed (December 2, 1982)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - An editorial in the Notre Dame student newspaper urged the students to put away their books last night and come to the Athletic and Convocation Center to help Digger Phelps play Colonel Sanders.
As the fans filed into the on-campus arena known for its pandemonium-in-the-round ambiance, each was handed a paper hat upon which was imprinted the smiling face of the Colonel and the name of the product he made famous, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The message was clear. The University of Kentucky-Notre Dame series was coming to an end last night because of UK coach Joe B. Hall's steadfast refusal to play every other year in the broiler where last night the Digger hoped to cook him.
And the Notre Dame faithful considered this to be, well, chicken - especially considering that, for the last two decades, the Irish had been coming to Louisville's Freedom Hall to play UK in a series that had hardly been finger-lickin' good or the troops from South Bend.
No wonder, then that last night a huge banner hanging near the ceiling proclaimed the ACC to be "Freedom Hall North." For the last 11 years, the coach bringing Notre Dame to Louisville has been the proud, colorful, Phelps. He won only twice - by 94-79 in 1973 and 67-61 in '81.
Over the years, Phelps came to loathe the annual post-Christmas game in Louisville. The UK fans taunted him with cries of "Sit down, Digger" And while he laughed outwardly at their intensity, he seethed inwardly at his inability to overcome UK's Freedom Hall mystique.
Last night, finally, Phelps got what he would have liked to have had in other years - years in which he had teams loaded with excellent players such as John Shumate, Adrian Dantley and Kelly Tripucka.
He had Joe B. and the Cats in Freedom Hall North, before a bunch of students who had laid down their books for a night to come and try to win one for the Digger. Yesterday afternoon, asked if Phelps was excited, an old friend smiled and said, "Like a kid with a new toy."
But, you see, that was the problem. The new toy was his basketball team. And, even with a home-court advantage, it's difficult to play a team as talented and deep and experienced as UK with a new toy - two freshmen (6-10 Ken Barlow and 6-9 Tim Kempton) in the starting lineup, three others coming off the bench.
By gametime it was obvious why Hall doesn't care to play at Notre Dame. The acoustics in the ACC are such that when the pep band plays the famed Irish fight song, as it does about a zillion times a game, the noise is mind-blowing. And then, of course, there is all that paper.
When the Irish burst through a huge paper hoop and into the arena, the UK end of the floor suddenly was littered with blue-and-gold streamers punctuated by a few rolls of toilet paper. There was so much trash that Hall was moved to complain to the officials.
Instead of a white Colonel Sanders suit and black string tie, Phelps wore a business suit and yellow tie. A green carnation was in his lapel. Otherwise, there were no gimmicks along the lines of the warmup suit that he wore once for one of those big TV games against UCLA.
In the Phelps regime, Irish fans have come to expect miracles. In fact, Notre Dame has the reputation as perhaps the No. 1 upset team in the country because of a history of beating the likes of UCLA and DePaul at home when those teams were ranked as the nation's best.
But last night it wasn't to be. Although the fans chanted "We want . . . Kentucky fried." the team from Colonel Sanders country got out of the broiler alive - mostly by acing like gamecocks instead of chickens.
It wasn't that Notre Dame played poorly in a 58-45 loss. To the contrary, the young Irish played with about as much poise and courage as Phelps could expect. The Irish tried to neutralize UK's fast break, bring the Wildcats out of their zone, and shorten the game by doing some of what they did last year to Freedom Hall - holding the ball at times for longer stretches than will be allowed in most college gyms this winter.
The Irish, you see, play their home games under the rules that will be in effect next March in the NCAA tournament - no shot clock, no three-point play. Once near the end of the first half Notre Dame held the ball so long that boos were heard coming from under some of the paper KFC hats.
But stratagems and psychological ploys were of little use last night against a poised UK team that won the game with a splendid display of grace under pressure.
In a way, Notre Dame may have taken itself out of the game near the end of the first half. Trailing only 20-19, the Irish held the ball for almost four minutes before senior guard John Paxson finally put up a long jumper that bounded into UK hands.
At the other end, Charles Hurt banked a turn-around jumper off the glass for a 22-19 UK margin.
"We were looking for a delay score," Phelps said. "Pax has the green light whenever he wants to shoot. We were excited at halftime. We thought we were very , very competitive."
But then, leading 24-19, UK came out and hit its first five shots of the second half - three by Jim Master, who grew up in nearby Fort Wayne Ind. - and that simply put the Digger in a hole, green carnation and all.
About the only satisfaction that the Notre Dame fans got was the chance to have a little fun at UK's expense. Whenever Hall would get up, the fans in Freedom Hall North would chant "Sit down Joe" - just as their UK counterparts had done to Digger all those years.
Early on, a couple of rolls of toilet paper came flying in Hall's general direction - but that stopped when Phelps got up, walked on the floor and motioned for the students to cease and desist.
"Once the game started, to tell you the truth, I didn't notice them." Hall said. "Once I get into the game situation, my mother could call me for dinner and I wouldn't even hear her."
The UK coach even did an about-face and said he would like to continue the Notre Dame series on a home-and-home basis. Of course, that's an impossibility for at least two years, considering that the Irish schedule already is full.
The hiatus no doubt will suit Phelps fine. That will give him the chance to build up his talent to the level to which he's accustomed. And he's also seen all he wants to see of UK for a while.
In UK's 34-28 overtime win last year at Freedom Hall, UK hit 13 of 17 from the floor - a single-game school record of 76.5 percent. Added with last night's 24 of 32 shooting, that means UK has made 37 of its last 49 shots against the Irish.
Now that's frying.
Afterward, Phelps was calm and smiling. He had nothing but compliments for UK, even to the point of saying the Wildcats can win the national championship this season without Sam Bowie, UK's injured 7-1 center.
"I like Kentucky's personnel," he said. "As I said before this is the best Kentucky team I've seen - better than the '78 team that won it all. People talk about Georgetown and Virginia and the others, but Kentucky could sneak in and win it all. They're hungry."
And not for fried chicken, either.
Derrick Hord is trapped between three Fighting Irish
Jim Master (#20) looks to pass
John Paxson looks to pass while guarded by Melvin Turpin (#54)