- Saturday, April 3 1993 -
NCAA Final Four (at New Orleans, LA)
Kentucky - 78 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Final Rank 2nd by AP]
Michigan - 81 (Head Coach: Steve Fisher) - [Final Rank 3rd by AP]
Halftime Score: Michigan 40, Kentucky 35
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Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 2 No. 36. (All Rights Reserved)
Sic Transit Gloria Kentucky:
So goes the glory of Kentucky! Despite an injury to Dale Brown, despite Jared Prickett and Jamal Mashburn fouling out, and despite some very uneven officiating, Kentucky hung in with Michigan until the final moments of the game, as the Wolverines defeated the Wildcats 81-78 in overtime during the national semifinals game last week.
The absence of these three at the end of the game, plus Michigan's refusal to be intimidated by Kentucky's achievements in earlier games, the Wolverine's ability to hit free throws (at one point they were 12 of 13), and the tenacious Michigan defense which shut down Travis Ford, combined to be too much for the Wildcats.
Probably every Kentucky fan on this mailing list who could reach a television has seen the game, so it won't be described in detail - only observations about many of the plays and calls. [JNB note - if for some reason you *didn't* get to see it, I taped the game. If you will pay for postage out and back, I'll lend it to you. Give me a call at the phone number appearing in my signature, or send e-mail.]
This was among the more physical games you'd want to see - contact was heavy on many of the fouls, although no one appeared to try to deliberately hurt anyone. It was annoying to hear Packer second guess the referees, and he did this throughout the contest. Early in the game, he claimed that Mashburn pushed off hard against Howard in grabbing a rebound, when a replay cleared showed that Jamal barely touched Howard (who probably didn't feel a thing). While claiming that the refs missed calls on both sides, Packer only seemed to discuss alleged fouls against the Wildcats which went undetected. Packer also griped early about an illegal screen being set for Ford, which on the replay didn't appear illegal at all.
One item which even Packer didn't appear to notice was that Jamal Mashburn, with his continued habit of nearly palming the ball prior to driving, walked frequently but was rarely if ever called for it. Considering that Jamal will shortly be playing in the NBA, it's doubtful he'll have to worry much about it being called there!
Additional "Packerisms" were complaints that Mashburn was all over Pelinka's back on a rebound, when the replay showed it being the other way around, and a comment that Prickett just couldn't handle the more experienced Webber. Considering that Prickett is a freshman, and Webber a sophomore, it isn't as if there is a great deal of difference between the experience of the two. Also, Jared appeared to be unwilling to give Webber a free rein - Prickett played solid defense (getting called for several highly dubious fouls), and he ripped at least two rebounds out of Webber's hands in the first half.
The Michigan free throw shooting seemed unbelievable at one point - 12 for 13! This had almost as much to do with their winning as the loss of Mashburn, Prickett, and Brown later - had the Wolverines shot their "normal" percentage early (around 65%) they would not have survived to reach an overtime.
Packer's commentary was as inane in the second half as in the first - on a breakaway, he claimed Ford mugged King, but the replay showed that Travis had all ball. The refs agreed. The crowning glory in Packer's inanity came when he said that Prickett should have fouled out when he ran through a screen set by Webber. What Packer failed to notice, even when it was replayed a couple of times by CBS, was that Howard squarely pushed Prickett right into Chris! Prickett tried to keep his balance yet couldn't, but he didn't do anything to initiate that contact. Thank heavens Packer isn't an official!
The famous Travis Ford "walk" also appeared to be a correct no call. Ford appeared to be bumped by King as he dribbled inside the circle, but even so he managed to dribble the ball. The ref couldn't in good conscience call a turnover against Ford because of the contact, and didn't want to make such a trivial call against King, so he let play continue. I thought the refs goofed by calling a foul against King for reaching in against Travis, but it was pretty obvious that the ball was bounced off King's foot during the scramble, which would've reset the shot clock for UK at that point. Travis afterwards claimed that he was in fact pushed by Howard. Had UK hit a 3 (instead of making Ford's FTs), the game would have been over before regulation...
Michigan had the ball with a chance to win at the end of regulation, when Rose took the ball and stood around instead of racing it up the court. As it was, it took UM 7 of their 10 seconds to bring the ball to midcourt and call a timeout, during which time it was apparent that Rose stuck his hand into Delk's gut while coming up court. No charge call was made - had this call been made correctly, UK would have had a chance to win yet again.
UK started well in the overtime, building a lead of as many as 4 points (which could have been 5 had Mash hit both his FTs). Jamal put up a shot which missed everything, bounced high, and which he then grabbed and put in on second effort. Since no one else appeared to touch the ball, this seemed like a self-pass (illegal), but the refs called nothing. A 5th foul against Mashburn with about 3.5 minutes left really hurt the Cats. Both Mash's 4th and 5th fouls seemed really unnecessary. With Prickett having already fouled out against Webber, this left no really quick big men to handle the Michigan front line.
Even so, Kentucky stubbornly fought to a 3 point lead with 1:12 left in the game, due to clutch FT shooting by Tony Delk. A Jackson drive with about a minute left cut the lead to 1, and a Webber tipin of Jackson's missed FT shot put Michigan ahead for good (Kentucky players were really pushed by their UM counterparts for the rebounds, just as happened in the Tennessee loss in Knoxville. Perhaps there were really no fouls, but it was rough...). Rodney Dent had a chance to put UK back up by 1, but his shot was blocked by Rose, who was fouled in the melee which followed. His FTs iced it. UK had chances in the final seconds to tie it again, but a missed Martinez 3 pointer and a tipped inbounds pass with 4 seconds left prevented Kentucky from getting off a decent 3 point shot, and the season ended for UK. Michigan played ever so slightly better, and probably deserved the win, but Kentucky just would not quit.
CBS has to be pleased with the play of Kentucky in the NCAA tournament these last couple of years. Although UK has not won the national championships, they've provided entertaining games.
Rodrick Rhodes and Gimel Martinez defend against UM's Ray Jackson