- Saturday, December 9 2000 -
Delta Air Lines Classic (at Atlanta, GA)
Kentucky - 84 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||18||0||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||0|
Georgia Tech - 86 (Head Coach: Paul Hewitt) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Georgia Tech 52, Kentucky 50
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Eastern Kentucky 94 - 79|||||Michigan State 45 - 46|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Comeback Falls Short
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were only able to score one bucket in the last five minutes of the game. But, unfortunately for Kentucky, it was the only basket they really needed. Shaun Fein, the 6'3" senior guard from Centerville, Ma. nailed a ten-foot jumper from the baseline with 1.3 seconds in the game to give Coach Paul Hewitt's club the victory, 86-84.
It was only the 15th Tech victory in 71 all-time games against Kentucky. The Yellow Jackets overcame an early 10-2 UK lead and built a 13-point lead of their own at 81-68, before weathering a 16-5 Wildcat storm to seal the victory, culminating in Fein's last second heroics.
"It was a clutch shot by a real veteran player," Coach Tubby Smith said, "that shot that went in and out on Keith was a huge play for us. Jones was a big presence for them under the boards. He came up with a big rebound. We have to get those offensive boards." Fein finished with 18 for the Jackets.
Keith Bogans and Tayshaun Prince did their best to keep Kentucky in the game. Bogans led the Cats with 22 points and the 6'9" junior Prince had his first "double-double" since the last time Kentucky met Georgia Tech. Prince finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, a block and a steal to lead Kentucky. Marvin Stone added 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Cats before fouling out.
Although the player of the game for Georgia Tech may have been Fein with his last second shot, the unlikely hero for Tech was a 6'6" freshman from Oak Ridge, TN., Halston Lane, who finished with 23 points (he had been averaging 5 ppg). Lane was 4-7 from three-point range and it seemed as though all his shots came at critical times. "You look at a game like this and the freshman Halston Lane is not a player you expect to have such a big game," Coach Smith said, "but he came out and his shots just kept falling."
Kentucky's long bench, which had been a huge factor in Kentucky's most impressive win of the year over North Carolina, sputtered and was badly outplayed by the bench of Georgia Tech. Tech's bench outscored the bench of the Cats 39-11.
Tay Prince noted that the freshmen would be inconsistent, "The freshmen are going to come in and try to show what they can do. Sometimes, like in the North Carolina game, they are going to light it up. And sometimes they are going to come in and not play as well. As one of the veterans, it is part of my job to pick these guys up. There is a lot of season left and they are only going to get better." Freshman Cliff Hawkins, who had played so brilliantly against North Carolina, committed 4 turnovers in just 10 minutes of action. Another freshman, Jason Parker, was just three for ten from the field, all short-range shots. Daniels, who entered the game shooting 83% from the field for the season, was 0-2 from the field and 0-2 from the free-throw line.
The first half was a half of runs by both teams. After a quick Tech bucket to open the game, Kentucky rattled off 10 straight points on two Saul Smith three-pointers, a short Parker hook and a picture-perfect Saul to Keith Bogans alley oop dunk.
"Saul really got us going there with a couple of big shots to start the game, but we really played poorly in a lot of effort areas like rebounding, three point defense and going for looses balls," Coach Smith said, "those effort areas are costing us a great deal at some key moments."
But T.J. Vines hit a pair of three's and Akins put the Jackets up 11-10 at the 15:24 mark. The Kentucky ran off another 5 points on a Bogans three and a basket by Estill to take a 15-11 lead. Both teams would trade baskets until Tech went on a 11-2 run to take their first lead, expanding it quickly to 27-22. The best the Cats would be able to do they rest of the half is tie the game once. Still, Kentucky went in the lockers at the half down only two points, 52-50.
The defense tightened at the beginning of the second half. No team scored in the first three minutes and the Cats did not break their scoreless spell until four minutes had expired. UK trailed only three, 56-53. "We did not come out of the locker room with a lot of energy in the second half," Coach Smith said.
The Cats would show a brief offensive spark taking a 63-60 lead, largely on the back of Tay Prince. But Tech would go on yet another run and the Cats seemed overwhelmed and beaten, falling behind by 13 points, 81-68. But the Cats would not fold.
Behind Prince, Bogans, Stone, the Cats would mount a tremendous charge. Kentucky went on a 14-2 run to pull within one point lead with a 1:18 remaining in the game. Then on a two-man play, Saul Smith fed Tay Prince, who made a tough shot around the basket and UK held the lead by one with a minute remaining. Jones was able to hit one free throw to tie the game at 84. Bogans then missed a short jumper that seemed to travel half way down the basket before rimming out. Georgia Tech would have the last opportunity to win the game, however. Akins brought the ball up the court, the Jackets having not scored a field goal in the last five minutes. Running the clock down, Akins fed Shaun Fein on the left corner. Fein faked a three pointer and made Bogans leave his feet. Fein stepped in a few feet and coolly nailed a short jumper to win the game for Georgia Tech. The final was 86-84.
"We played well at times," said Prince, "after the North Carolina game we can't allow ourselves to get too up or too down. We know we are capable of playing Kentucky basketball. We now have to go out there and dig deep." Free-throw shooting continued to plague Kentucky. The Cats shot just 20-32 from the charity stripe.
The loss dropped UK to 3-4. Kentucky and Georgia Tech shot 45% from the field and the Cats were respectable from beyond the arc at 38%. Tech was 12-29 from 3-point range at 41%, raising questions once again about Kentucky's weak three-point defensive efforts, "I think the young players feel like the shooter is going to dribble around them. We have to the players to move their feet and get after those shooters. When the other team gets hot we are really having trouble shutting them down. Halston Lane made three three-pointers right over Keith Bogans uncontested and at halftime that's was the story."
"We have exams this week. Hopefully, the players will be focused on their exams as well as the game. Going up against Michigan St. is going to be a huge challenge, especially after a game this this today."
Kentucky plays away at Michigan St. next Saturday.
Saul Smith and Georgia Tech's Tony Akins scramble for a loose ball
Georgia Tech's Halston Lane shoots over Tayshaun Prince