- Saturday, January 20 2001 -
Kentucky - 55 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||16||0||1||0||0||1||2||0||1||1||2||0||1||0||2||1|
Mississippi - 65 (Head Coach: Roderick Barnes) - [Ranked 21st by AP]
Halftime Score: Mississippi 30, Kentucky 27
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Tennessee 84 - 74|||||Alabama 60 - 70|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Rebs Halt Streak
Ole Miss took care of the last unbeaten team in SEC play. Turnovers, poor shot selection and some good old fashion home cookin', courtesy of the officiating, cost the Kentucky Wildcats an opportunity to pick up their 8th win in a row. Kentucky held a brief lead in each half, but Ole Miss used two 8-0 runs to establish comfortable margins, then held off the Wildcats. Ole Miss won 65-55. Kentucky shot just 38.5% for the game and was only 3-17 from three-point range. But it was turnovers that appeared to be most costly for Kentucky.
"We just weren't able to take care of the basketball," said Coach Tubby Smith, "When you have only 12 assists and then commit 21 turnovers, you aren't going to win many games in this league. We just came off a big win over Tennessee and this is the first SEC road game for our freshmen and all of that was a factor."
The star of the game was Jason Harrison, a 5'5", 150 lb. junior from Little Rock, Arkansas Harrison scored 16 well-timed points and was a continuous thorn in the sides of the Wildcats. Rahim Lockhart, the 6'8" 250 lb senior, added 12 points. For Kentucky, four players reached double figures, lead by Marquis Estill's 13 points. Keith Bogans added 12 and Tayshaun Prince and Gerald Fitch added 11 each.
For Ole Miss, it was only their 11th win ever over the Wildcats in 97 contests dating back to 1925. It was the Rebels' coach Rod Barnes first win over the Cats in four attempts. It was also the first time in UK/Ole Miss history where the Rebels were ranked higher nationally at the time of the game.
If the Wildcats didn't have enough problems with the Rebels themselves, it seemed Kentucky could not catch any breaks from the officials. Time and time again, the Wildcats seemed to be victimized by questionable calls from SEC Officials, Andre Patillo, Doug Shows, and Rick Crawford.
The Wildcats, 10-6 (3-1 SEC) faced an aggressive Ole Miss defense. Defensively, Ole Miss caused 21 Kentucky turnovers. Offensively the Rebs shot 53% from three-point line (7-13), many of which stymied Kentucky efforts to get back into the game. Ê "Ole Miss did a great job of getting in our face, and making sharp crisp passes," Coach Smith said, "Coming into a hostile arena down here, we knew it was going to be tough to win."
"The lack of three-point defense was really a factor," Coach Smith said, " We were just not playing well enough offensively to recover from the soft perimeter defense."
Kentucky broke out to an early 6-2 lead before the Rebels went on their first 8-0 run. The game was tight throughout the first half. Down by five points, Marquis Estill scored near the buzzer to pull the Cats to within 30-27 at the half.
"We had some chances with loose balls, but we didn't dig the ball out. I think they (Ole Miss) got about two or three dunks in a row."
As the second half opened neither team could really get untracked. Kentucky committed 3 early turnovers but Ole Miss could manage to extend the lead by one two points, 40-35. Then Gerald Fitch would hit a three-point shot to pull the Cats to within two points. On the next trip down the floor, Estill scored and was fouled, hitting the free throw, giving the Cats a 41-40 lead.
It was a lead the Cats would enjoy ever-so-briefly at the Rebels spurted out to their second big run of the game, a 10-2 run spurt. The run included two key three-pointers by Jason Harrison. "Jason had a great game," Tubby Smith said, "Those shots were just like daggers in our hearts."
"In addition to the turnovers our rebounding was a problem," Coach Smith added, "When our leading rebounder is one of our two-guards (Gerald Fitch) that is disappointing." The Rebels would extend their lead to as much as 12 points. The Cats squandered several attempts to get back into the game, but would never recover.
"We just didn't make shots," Coach Smith added, "Keith is our best scorer and he was off with 4-15 shooting. But we just didn't handle the ball, which was our primary objective coming into this game."
Kentucky's road doesn't get much easier over the next couple of weeks. The Cats travel to Alabama next on January 23rd. After a brief trip home against Vanderbilt, it's back out on the road for Kentucky, with tough games against Georgia and South Carolina.
Mississippi's Jason Holmes shoots over Marquis Estill (#50) while Keith Bogans (#10) looks on
Ole Miss guard Jason Harrison and Gerald Fitch fight for a loose ball