- Sunday, January 22 1984 -
Houston - 67 (Head Coach: Guy Lewis) - [Ranked 4th by AP]
Kentucky - 74 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Ranked 3rd by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 35, Houston 31
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Vanderbilt 67 - 46|||||Georgia 64 - 40|
Game Writeup - by Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune
Sky-High Kentucky cuts Houston to Size
LEXINGTON, Ky., -- The glass backboards were covered with fingerprints, more than circumstantial evidence that Sunday afternoon's game between national powers Kentucky and Houston was played above the rim.
The Wildcats, with their two 7-footers -- Melvin Turpin and Sam Bowie -- dangling from the Rupp Arena rafters, outhammered the Cougars and 7-foot shot-blocking specialist Akeem Abdul Olajuwon 74-67 in front of 23,992 fans.
I'm not looking forward to going up against Akeem again in the [NCAA] tournament," Bowie said. "We're just glad to get this one out of the way."
Turpin scored 19 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. Bowie, in his best effort since coming back from two years of leg injuries, scored 8 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. Olajuwon scored 14 points, took down 12 rebounds and rejected 5 shots before fouling out with 6:14 left in the game.
"I would like to play these guys again on a neutral floor," complained Olajuwon, whose team fell to 16-3. "Everything I do, they [the officials] call me for everything. I should be used to it by now, but the Kentucky players, they just jumped into me and the refs called me for the fouls."
Houston stormed to early leads of 7-0 and 11-1, forcing turnovers and missed shots with an aggressive, trapping defense.
"Houston came here to work immediately. They weren't intimidated by the 24,000 fans," said Kentucky sophomore forward Kenny Walker, who led the Wildcats' scoring with 20 points. "Obviously, their objective was to take the crowd out of the game right away."
With the score 11-1, Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall called a timeout and replaced overanxious freshman guard James Blackmon with steady sophomore Roger Harden. With Harden's court direction, Kentucky [14-2] began its slow uphill battle that earned the Wildcats a 35-31 halftime lead.
"I just wanted to get these guys organized. I just did my job," said Harden, a product of Valparaiso [Ind.] High School. "I thought maybe I had gone back to high school because I felt so free out there today."
The outstanding array of individual talent on the floor was evidence by the 25-point performance of Houston guard Alvin Franklin [19 in the second half] and the 19-point, 9-rebound job of Michael Young
But the ominous presence in the middle of Kentucky's Bowie and Turpin and Houston's Olajuwon helped force erratic shooting and poor execution. The Wildcats were guilty of 24 turnovers. Houston made only 34.7 percent of its shots from the field [26 of 75].
"We didn't win this game by execution," Hall said. "We won this one on emotion."
Kentucky stretched its lead to 61-51 with 7:56 to play on a Walker jam after a Harden alley-op. Following a timeout, Houston cut the deficit to 62-59 behind Franklin and Young.
Hall ordered his Wildcats to spread out the offense in the final 3:16, but it almost backfired. Franklin ran off six straight points - two free throws, a pull-up jumper and a steal and layup. That made the score 70-67 with 1:55 left.
"We had a chance to win until about 40 seconds were left," Houston Guy Lewis said. "I would rather have had an 11-1 lead toward the end of the game than at the start."
Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin have their hands full with Akeem Olajuwon
James Blackmon tries to sneak into the middle
Kenny Walker dunks