- Wednesday, February 19 2003 -
Kentucky - 66 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 2nd by AP]
Arkansas - 50 (Head Coach: Stan Heath) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, Arkansas 29
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|Louisiana State 68 - 57|||||Mississippi State 70 - 62|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
UK solves Bud Walton hex, keeps rolling along
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- For the first time in his coaching career, Tubby Smith left Bud Walton Arena with a victory, as Kentucky survived a lackluster first half before running away with a 66-50 win against Arkansas.
The victory was UK's 15-consecutive win, upping their record to 11-0 in the Southeastern Conference and 21-3 overall. Arkansas (7-15, 2-9 SEC) continued its downward spiral, scoring just 21 points in the second half, most of which came after the Cats had opened up a 21-point advantage.
After slogging its way to a 36-29 halftime lead, UK used a 16-2 run to start the second half, holding the Razorbacks to one field goal in the first 10:22 of the half, a span that saw the Hogs make just 1-of-11 from the field. During that run, UK repeatedly dumped the ball down low to attack the smallish Razorbacks.
"We wanted to go inside more," senior Jules Camara said. "When we go inside, our guards get better shots, so we wanted to pound the ball inside, then kick the ball back out.
"Coach told us we were taking bad shots (in the first half) and needed to be more patient and run the offense through."
With the renewed effort to pound the ball the ball inside, the defense also was it's relentless self, forcing Arkansas into 17 turnovers and just 36.4 shooting for the game, including 30.8 percent in the second half. UK countered that with a good enough offensive effort, including a 15-point advantage from the charity stripe.
UK's game-clinching run was again keyed by Gerald Fitch, who has become the player that always seems to drill a shot when the Cats most need one. The sophomore scored a game-high 17 points, including nine midway through the second half to extend UK's lead.
"Gerald is a gutsy kid," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "He's a hard-nosed, blue-collar player. Gerald is a big, big key. He makes a lot of clutch shots."
Ironically, UK's key run was sparked when Smith took leading scorer Keith Bogans out of the game, sitting him for six minutes immediately after he was stripped of the ball by Arkansas freshman Wenbos Mukubu. Smith said after the game, Bogans was suffering from a stiff back and twisted ankle.
"I'm a little banged up, but comes with the territory," Bogans said of his nine-point outing. "I twisted my ankle the other day in practice and coach kept asking me if I was all-right. Of course, I'm going to tell him I can play."
As for the rest of the Cats, they continue to roll towards a regular-season SEC championship, perhaps even an unbeaten one, which would equal the 1996 national championship team's 16-0 mark in the league.
"A win is a win," Fitch said. "The focus has been on us blowing people out, then if we don't, they think it's not a good win. This was a good win."
Smith can attest to that, winning his first game in six tries in Fayetteville.
Chuck Hayes and Marquis Estill defend