- Saturday, January 13 2001 -
Notre Dame - 71 (Head Coach: Mike Brey) - [Ranked 25th by AP]
Kentucky - 82 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||16||1||2||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||2||1||0||0||1||3|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 33, Notre Dame 26
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|South Carolina 69 - 63|||||Tennessee 84 - 74|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats top Irish 82-71
The Kentucky Wildcats used their solid bench to overcome a slow start on Saturday, beating Notre Dame 82-71 in Rupp Arena. UK's bench outscored their Notre Dame counterparts 26-9. "I have as much confidence in my bench players as I do anybody," Coach Tubby Smith said. Tayshaun Prince, scored 19 points and had eight rebounds to lead the way for Kentucky, winners of their last six straight games. Bogans added 14 points, Fitch added 13 and Daniels 10. The Wildcats used first half runs of 13-0 and 12-0 to erase an early 14-4 Irish lead.
"Tayshaun was just outstanding tonight," said Coach Tubby Smith after the game, "And I can't say enough about the bench. Our team is starting to realize that this is a team and a family and that we can win if we play as a unit and not care who gets the credit. We did that tonight. We had good balance and everyone contributed in a positive way."
Notre Dame's Player of the Year candidate, Troy Murphy, played with foul trouble and never quite got his game into gear, finishing with 14 points, ten below his average. "We did a good job tonight making it hard for Troy to get the ball," Tubby said, "And when he did get the ball we doubled him."
Murphy controlled the opening tip and the Irish controlled the first eight minutes of the game, breaking out to a 14-4 lead as the cold-shooting Wildcats could not seem to get untracked. The Cats missed their first six shots of the game and could not seem to stop Troy Murphy and Ryan Humphrey in the paint.
Kentucky's bench would enter the game and become an instant factor. Marvin Stone penetrated the Irish zone defense and dished to Marquis Estill for an easy basket. Hawkins scooted past the top wave of the defense and hit a medium range jumper. After the UK press forced a turnover, Estill hit another basket, this time as a follow-up to a Tayshaun Prince miss. On the next possession Hawkins, who would be named "Player of the Game," hit a slashing Erik Daniels for a 14 foot shot. Then J.P. Blevins forced another Irish turnover and then gave UK its first lead at 15-14 with a long-range jumper at the 8:11 mark. Prince completed the run with a put back of an Erik Daniels miss and UK completed a 13-0 run and held a three point lead. In that UK run the Wildcat bench scored 11 of the 13 points.
But Notre Dame would come back. The Irish came into the game with a reputation for proficiency from the outside. But Coach Mike Brey's ball club started out cold from the outside, 0-7 from three-point range. They would eventually finish only 6-24 from three point range. But after baskets from Humphrey and Murphy, Kentucky native David Graves would break the ice with two straight three-point shots, putting Notre Dame back in front 24-21.
Bogans, nursing a minor injury, had been sitting out a great deal of the 1st half, but would reenter the game, hitting two straight buckets. Prince added a putback and UK was out in front again 27-24. After Graves missed a long-range jumper, Prince hit his first three pointer of the game. On the following play, Estill got a clean block on a short jumper from Humphrey and started the break, which ended with Gerald Fitch's second 3-pointer of the game. The Wildcats would end the break up 33-26.
Seconds after the game started, Gerald Fitch, who is quickly gaining a reputation as Kentucky's toughest player, slipped into the paint to steal a rebound from Murphy and Humphrey, causing CBS announcer Billy Packer to say, "It's unbelievable how Fitch gets to the ball. He really has a nose for it." Coach Smith later said after the game, "Fitch gives us that energy that brings out the best of everyone on the team. You saw him. He's out there fighting and scrapping. It's great to have a player like that."
Jason Parker opened up the second half with a short-range shot and the Wildcats were able to extend the lead to 11 on a 3-pointer by Saul Smith and a free throw by Bogans. But Notre Dame would stay within striking distance.
A Ryan Humphrey putback and Martin Ingelsby 3-pointer drew the Irish to within 2 at 41-39. But that would be as close as Notre Dame would get. With Notre Dame hanging tough, down by only 5, Troy Murphy picked up his fourth foul and left the game at the 12:11 mark. But Ryan Humphrey (who ended the game with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots) would step up and helped keep Notre Dame close. It was a Humphrey put back that pulled the Irish back to within four at 51-47, but that would be as close as Notre Dame would get the rest of the way.
Erik Daniels, Tayshaun Prince and Keith Bogans combined scoring efforts to expand the lead as Kentucky built its lead to 64-50. Notre Dame would manage to pull back to within seven points at 71-64. However, Gerald Fitch would hit his third three pointer and Estill and Bogans would score. "Keith was missing early," Coach Smith said, "but when he saw how well the bench played, he really wanted to get back in there. So, he entered the game in the second half with some fire." Four Fitch free throws would ice the game for the Cats, and UK walked away with its 6th straight win, 82-71. Both UK and Notre Dame are now 9-5 on the season.
"Erik Daniels really picked up up with his offensive efforts," Tubby noted, "and Cliff Hawkins really sparked his with his steals and his penetration. As Cliff continues to improve he'll get more minutes. His defensive play really helps to get a lot of offensive plays started."
Coach Tubby Smith was especially pleased with the way his Wildcats managed to build a lead over a quality ball club and maintain the lead down the stretch, "We were able to keeping pushing the ball down the stretch, and most importantly we maintained our composure. Notre Dame is a good ball club and good ball clubs are going to come at you. We did a good job holding them off and taking the win."
Kentucky will reenter SEC play this Tuesday at home against Tennessee.
Tayshaun Prince blocks the shot of Troy Murphy
Prince shoots a hook