- Saturday, December 20 1997 -
Tulsa - 53 (Head Coach: Bill Self) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 74 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 4th by AP]
Halftime Score: Tulsa 29, Kentucky 28
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|Georgia Tech 85 - 71|||||American 75 - 52|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 7 No. 16. (All Rights Reserved)
Living on Tulsa Time:
Once again Kentucky got off to a slow start, yet once again the Cats prevailed with a 2nd half surge as they defeated the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa 74-53 in Rupp Arena. UK was ranked #4 by AP for this contest.
Both teams misfired in their initial FG attempts before Gendron hit a 16 footer. Turner made a layup to tie, but Gendron hit another to make it 4-2 Tulsa. UK scored the next 7 pts to take a 9-4 lead (thanks to Turner, Sheppard, and Magloire) at the initial TV timeout, but the Golden Hurricane tied it and went ahead 13-11 on the strength of a Coley dunk off a Padgett turnover. Following the TV timeout, Coach Smith substituted for all 5 Wildcats (as he has done a couple of times this year). Edwards tried to force a shot when he was up against 3 defenders by himself, and ended up walking. With Tulsa leading 14-11 at the next TV timeout, Smith returned all the usual starters. Tulsa held a 1-3 pt edge for the next several minutes, going up ultimately to 18-15, and then the Hurricane scored the next 5 consecutive pts to lead 23-15. Kentucky looked lethargic and listless (as they had against Georgia Tech), and Tulsa took advantage of the situation. An 18 footer by Turner, and a pair of Sheppard and Bradley FTs made it 23-21, but Tulsa remained ahead 25-21 after a Ruffin putback of a Coley miss. UK had problems getting off a good shot before experiencing time trouble, due to solid and tenacious Tulsa defense (the Cats also seemed reluctant to attempt 3 pt shots, despite being open for many of these in the 1st half). A Mohammed putback and a drive by Turner tied the score at 25-25, but another Gendron 15 footer made it 27-25 Tulsa. Mohammed hit a FT and had a dunk to conclude 1st half scoring for Kentucky, and Bennett got an easy dunk to make it 29-28 Tulsa at the half. Scott Padgett not only had zero pts in the opening period, he had not even attempted a shot. Gendron led the Golden Hurricane with 11 pts. ESPN TV commentators were wondering out loud how good Gonzaga was, considering that Tulsa lost to them by 34 pts and Tulsa now appeared primed to beat UK at home!
Turner made a left-handed reverse layup to put Kentucky out front 30-29 to start the 2nd half, and Magloire added a hook shot for good measure. Bennett had an easy dunk when nobody got back on defense for the Cats, and Thompson later added a pair of FTs to make it 33-32 Tulsa. This was the last lead of the day for Bill Self's team. The Wildcats truly went to war after this, scoring the next 17 pts unanswered (thanks to Evans FT tosses, Mohammed FT tosses, a Mohammed bank, a Smith coast-to-coast drive, a Mills 3 pt shot which finally bounced in, a Smith FT, and a Sheppard layup). UK's relentless defensive pressure forced numerous turnovers and miscues on the part of the Golden Hurricane, which appeared rattled (just as Georgia Tech had earlier). Coley and Padgett then traded 3s, as did Gendron and Sheppard to make it 57-41 UK. Padgett finally took and completed a shot, making a 3 with a little under 8 minutes left in the game. Hill hit an extremely long-distance 3 pt shot, and then Padgett had a shot goaltended to put the Cats up 62-45. Mohammed had a dunk, and Tulsa started shooting airballs and failed to inbound the ball in 5 seconds on its next possessions. Kentucky scored the next 7 consecutive pts, leading 73-45 (Kentucky's largest lead of the day), thanks to a Mohammed layup and 12 footer, an Edwards 3, and an Edwards layup. Bradley hit 1 of 2 FT attempts to give Kentucky a 74-47 edge. Tulsa hit a 12 footer and a 3 to close slightly, but could never make up much ground as UK cruised to its 9th victory in 10 outings, winning 74-53.
Saul Smith (#11) drives
Cameron Mills defends
Smith looks to make a play while defended by Tulsa's Rod Thompson