- Wednesday, December 29 2004 -
Campbell - 50 (Head Coach: Robbie Laing) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 82 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 8th by AP and 10th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 45, Campbell 11
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|William & Mary 92 - 47|||||South Carolina 79 - 75|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Smith not happy with UK's blowout victory
Tubby Smith was looking for signs of improvement from his basketball team against a shaky Campbell team, but what he got instead was another tale of two halves that has to leave him questioning the intensity of his team.
True, Kentucky routed Campbell 82-50 in front of 22,411 fans at Rupp Arena in its first game after the Christmas holidays, but the last tune up for Southeastern Conference play left a flurry of unanswered questions after a lackluster second half. If Smith was looking for a complete game, he certainly didn't get anything close to that on this night.
"I think our players thought the game ended at halftime," Smith said. "I thought it was a lack of focus and concentration. Mentally we were not concentrating.
"We talked about it and tried to preach about it at halftime to respect your opponent and the game. That's what is disappointing. Play the game the right way every second."
Smith's anger was justified when you compare the two halves. UK ran out to a 28-4 lead against the hopelessly outmanned Camels, and held a commanding 45-11 lead at the break. The Cats were so dominant during the first 20 minutes, Campbell didn't break into double figures until 1:05 remained in the half, while UK freshman center Randolph Morris reached that threshold in less than six minutes. When the dust had settled, Campbell had made just 5-of-30 shots and were helpless in the paint.
The second half was a vastly different story from the outset. The Cats seemed to have a total lack of focus and fire, allowing the Camels to start the half on a 22-6 spurt that cut the lead to 51-33 with 10 minutes left. While UK eventually recovered for the blowout win, it was still outscored and outrebounded in the second half by the team with a Sagarin rating of 301 coming into the game.
"We really had a letdown," junior Patrick Sparks said. "It's pretty disappointing. It's a big deal because the second half is momentum into the next game and we were pretty disappointed we didn't finish it off."
Smith, who talked a day earlier about his team being more 'serious-minded' about playing the game right, got the perfect example of what he meant.
"It's a sign of a team that hasn't grown up yet," Smith said. "All of the sudden you go along and the immaturity shows up. This is a perfect example. The leadership needs to step up and say, 'You shut up and get ready for the game.' We need that."
Few of UK's players were in a jovial mood after the game, mostly because they knew how unhappy their coach was with their performance.
"It's terrible disappointing for us and the coaching staff to play as poorly as we did," junior Ravi Moss said. "We showed no maturity."
If maturity is what UK is lacking, several players had the antidote.
"We've got to be able to concentrate all the time," junior Kelenna Azubuike said. "We've got to play like grown men. There is a time for joking and stuff and a time to be serious. We need to learn that a little better."
Asked what it might take to learn that lesson, Azubuike didn't flinch.
"We are going to learn the hard way in the morning," Azubuike said.
Lost in the wasteland that was the second half was the breakout performance of heralded freshman Randolph Morris, who collected a career-high 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Morris scored 10 points in the first six minutes and added 13 points after intermission.
"He played really well," Azubuike said. "He got open and went up strong. Hopefully that gives him more confidence and he keeps getting better."
Smith said he was pleased to see it looked like the 6-foot-10 Atlanta native was taking the coaching staff's teaching to heart.
"I thought he was moving well and running the floor better," Smith said. "He was trying to do the things we wanted him to do Ð run the floor, post up early, hold the post. When he puts his mind to it, stays hungry and aggressive, he's hard to stop."
Morris, who was averaging 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, finished with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in just 23 minutes of action.
Ramel Bradley defends against Campbell's Ruell Pringle
Joe Crawford slices to the basket