- Saturday, December 26 1981 -
(at East Rutherford, NJ)
Kentucky - 69 (Head Coach: Joe B. Hall) - [Ranked 2nd by AP]
North Carolina - 82 (Head Coach: Dean Smith) - [Ranked 1st by AP]
|Matt Doherty (*)||38||4||6||0||1||5||2||8||0||1||1||8|
|Buzz Peterson (*)||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Halftime Score: North Carolina 38, Kentucky 35
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Seton Hall 98 - 74|||||Notre Dame 34 - 28 OT|
Game Writeup - by Malcolm Moran, New York Times
North Carolina 82-69 Winner
KENTUCKY LOSES BATTLE OF UNBEATENS
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 26 -- It appears that even Dean Smith, the basketball coach at North Carolina who casts a ballot each week in the United Press International poll that ranks the nation's teams, will have to admit that the Tar Heels should be rated as the best.
After the 82-69 victory over second-ranked Kentucky this afternoon, a game that the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels controlled for the last 20 minutes, Smith would have a difficult time explaining a vote for anyone else. He did not say who has been getting his vote, just that it has not been Carolina. During the week, he said he hoped that Kentucky "doesn't blow us out."
But in a rare meeting of the two top-ranked teams, played in a tournament atmosphere before a national television audience and a crowd of 18,116 at Byrne Meadowlands Arena, the Wildcats (6-1) were overwhelmed.
Instead, it was Carolina that won a one-sided game for its sixth victory the season without a defeat. When Joe B. Hall, the Kentucky coach, was asked what his team would have to do to beat North Carolina the next time, he smiled. "We'd have to shoot better, play defense better, and rebound better," he said.
Smith reminded everyone of the absence of Sam Bowie, Kentucky's 7-foot-1 inch junior center who is recovering from a stress fracture of the left tibia. During the game, Sam Perkins, Carolina's sophomore center, and James Worthy, the junior forward, made Bowie's absence obvious.
Worthy scored 26 points, 18 in the first half. He made 10 of 17 shots, 6 of 6 free throws, and had eight rebounds and six assists. "As a passer," Perkins said of Worthy, "from A to Z, I'd say he's an A."
Perkins scored 21 points, 17 in the second half. He made 6 of 9 shots in the second half, with a total of 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. "It just so happened that Sam got open more than I did," Worthy said of the second half.
Without Bowie, whose leg will be examined next Thursday to determine if it has healed, the Wildcats could not handle both Worthy and Perkins. Mel Turpin, the 6-11 Kentucky sophomore, blocked a Perkins shot and helped prevent Perkins from scoring off lob passes all but once in the half. But as the game went along, Turpin's problem was that he could be in just one place at a time.
In the first half, when the Tar Heels struggled against the Kentucky zone, Worthy kept North Carolina in front. In the second half, when the Wildcats played a man-to-man defense most of the time, Perkins helped the Tar Heels quickly lengthen their 3-point halftime lead. In the second half, the Wildcats were outrebounded, 18-10, as Carolina took control.
"I think Perkins' quickness in the second half really showed," said Bowie, who watched from the Kentucky bench.
"Without Sam," the Kentucky guard Dirk Minniefield said of his teammate, "we were overmatched."
Before he fouled out, Minniefield scored 8 points, more than 5 below his average. Derrick Hord, the junior forward, missed 10 of 16 shots, mostly because of the defensive play of the Carolina sophomore Matt Doherty.
Michael Jordan, the Tar Heel freshman who has been compared to David Thompson, made eight of his last 10 shots and scored 19 points. Except for a few long-range shots by the Wildcat sophomore Jim Master, Kentucky's outside game did not make up for the problems North Carolina posed inside.
The Tar Heels took control in the first five minutes of the second half. They outscored Kentucky, 10-2, in a stretch of 4 minutes 17 seconds, with four players scoring. Jordan made a rebound and lay-up for a 5-point lead. Worthy tipped in a missed shot, and Perkins made a hook shot to make the score 44-35.
Charles Hurt, a junior forward, made a layup to bring the Wildcats to 7 points, but a jump shot by Jimmy Black and a slam dunk by Perkins put the Tar Heels ahead by 11. Their lead was never less than 8 after that.
The last time anyone could remember a regular season game between the Nos. 1 and 2 teams was at the start of the 1975-76 season, when Indiana, the eventual national champion, easily defeated U.C.L.A., the defending champion. This game was not that one-sided, but the Tar Heels were so far out of Kentucky's reach that even Smith cautiously said that this team was better. "At this moment, today, maybe we were better than Kentucky," he said.
Not that he enjoys making that admission. In the eighth game of last season, the Tar Heels defeated Indiana at home by 9 points. The next time the teams met, in the national championship game at Philadelphia last spring, Indiana won by 13.
With the determination of 1982's Final Four nearly three months away, Smith said. "There are 25 teams that could win the national championship. We're one of them. There's Virginia and Kentucky, at least 25 teams. In our league, I'm afraid there are several.
Fearful of Bowie's Return
As for Kentucky, Smith said, "If we meet again, they'll probably have a psychological advantage."
That meeting, even if it does take place, is a long way off. "We do have to get better," Smith said. "Gosh. We don't have any illusions about staying No. 1. With out schedule, there are too many tough games. We want to be there in March."
"Right now," Minniefield said, "they're definitely a better team, but we're going to meet up with them again, down the road .... I think this is a game we're going to keep in the back of our minds for the rest of the year."
In the meantime, Smith has to decide what team will appear at the top of his ballot. "I haven't made that decision yet," Smith said, after everyone else had done so.
Jimmy Black ignites the break with Michael Jordan on the wing and Jim Master scrambling to get back. Looking on in the distance include Charles Hurt, Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Melvin Turpin and Chuck Verderber
UNC's James Worthy (#52) jams the ball in front of Melvin Turpin
Melvin Turpin (#54) grabs the ball