- Saturday, March 10 2001 -
SEC Tournament (at Nashville, TN)
Kentucky - 87 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 15th by AP]
Arkansas - 78 (Head Coach: Nolan Richardson) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Arkansas 42, Kentucky 32
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|South Carolina 78 - 65|||||Mississippi 77 - 55|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats beat Hogs - Go for 23rd SEC Tourney
Sophomore Keith Bogans led a balanced Kentucky attack on Saturday, as the Wildcats used a 20-5 second-half run to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit and beat the Arkansas Razorbacks, 87-78. Bogans had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Kentucky. Kentucky will play Ole Miss on Sunday at 1:00 PM EST for the SEC Tournament Championship. Prince chipped in with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Marvin Stone added 11 points and 8 rebounds and freshman Gerald Fitch had a career-high 17 points for Kentucky. "I couldn't be prouder of these young men, coming back from 15 down in the first half," Coach Tubby Smith said, "it just shows you the caliber and the character of the young men we have."
The Cats, who had been badly out-hustled in the first half, came out for the second half on a mission. Bogans said, "Coach told us that we had to come out and play a lot harder in the second half. We were not patient in the first half. We made a lot of mistakes and the coach let us know about it. In the second half, it was a whole different story."
The Wildcats and Razorbacks played tit for tat the first six and a half minutes of the game. Keith Bogans tied the game at 15 with 13:30 remaining in the first half. But over the next eight minutes, Arkansas would dominate play. The Hogs' swarming defense smothered the Cats and Tubby Smith's ball club could not find a way to get shots off. The quick Razorbacks beat Kentucky to every loose ball and they used eight first hand offensive rebounds to get second chance opportunities. Arkansas would go on a 16-4 run and take a 31-19 lead. Jason Parker would hit a couple of buckets and Gerald Fitch would add a pair of free throws but Kentucky would fall further behind. Jannero Pargo would hit a three and add two free throws and Brandon Dean would add a pair of long-range . Arkansas would build its biggest lead at 40-25 with 3:43 remaining. The Cats would scratch back before the end of the half behind Keith Bogans and freshman Erik Daniels. The half ended with the Cats behind 42-32, "The Wildcats are a very good team," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said, "we didn't expect to be this far ahead. We were happy with the way we played in the first half. Our defense was good and we took care of the ball well." Arkansas protected the ball well against a sluggish UK defense, turning the ball over just 4 times in the first half.
"We shot the ball pretty well, but we did not get out on their three-point shooters," Tubby Smith said, "We needed to play tougher in the second half, and fight fire with fire." The Cats responded in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring the first 6 points of the second half to cut the Hogs' lead to just four at 42-38. The Hogs, who had committed just 4 turnovers for the entire first half, committed 4 more in the first 3:30 of the second half. But Arkansas would extend the lead to eight once again on a Joe Johnson 3-pointer with 13:47 remaining in the half. "They were taking the game to us and we were still not as aggressive as we like," Coach Smith said," once we got into the bonus situation, I felt like we were in a position to take control."
Keith Bogans and Tayshaun Prince would take over, sparking a 20-5 UK run over the next 6:17 and the Cats were up seven. "Cliff Hawkins also gave us a big lift off the bench," Tubby Smith said, "Saul picked up his fourth foul and sat down but Cliff picked it up. But Keith and Tay did the job again today as they have done all year."
After a Jason Parker free throw, Keith Bogans hit 2 straight baskets, pulling the Cats to within 3 points at 50-47. Alonzo Lane hit a free throw for the Hogs, but then the Cats would score six straight points, a three-pointer by Fitch and an old fashioned three by Stone, and the Cats had their first lead, 53-51 at the 10:57 mark. Joe Johnson tied the game briefly with a bucket, but then Prince would add a bucket and Bogans would nail a three point shot and the Cats were up 58-53. The teams exchanged points until Marvin Stone came through with two big baskets, adding a free throw, building the Wildcats lead to 73-63 at the 2:59 mark. "Those were some big plays by Marvin, who nearly finished with a double-double," Coach Smith said, "Marvin is playing with more confidence now and it shows."
"We knew we could knock down our shots if we took our time," Bogans said, "earlier they (Arkansas) beat us at their house. We had a chance to win the SEC outright but they beat us by ten. We just wanted to get them back. You never want to lose to an SEC team twice."
Arkansas hit four three pointers in the final moments but Fitch, Stone, Prince and Saul Smith iced the game with 9 free throws in 11 attempts and a couple of breakaway baskets over the Arkansas full-court press.
"Early on my shot wasn't falling," SEC Player of the Year Tayshaun Prince said, "I hit my first one and thought I had it going, but it wasn't happening, so I had to go out and do some different things when they double teamed me. So, I worked on getting it to the open players. In the second half I was able to post up and play effective around the basket."
The Wildcats outrebounded the Razorbacks 40-23. The Hogs, who used 8 offensive rebounds in the first half to create a number of second-chance points, had just one offensive rebound in the second half. The Wildcats, on the other hand, had 10 rebounds off the offensive glass in the second half.
With their victory, the Wildcats earned an opportunity to play for its 23rd SEC Tournament Championship. They will play Ole Miss at 1:00 PM EST, for the title. Both teams may be playing for more than just an SEC Tournament Championship. It may very well be that the winner also earns a #2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
"We are expecting a war against Ole Miss," Prince said, "they got us the first time, but we know we can win. We just have to take the game to them and make them play our game and not have us play their game."
"We hope we can redeem ourselves. I thought we had a good shot to win the first game. You can't say enough about the job Barnes has done. It's gonna be a great battle between two teams that won their division."
Gerald Fitch celebrates a dunk