- Monday, November 25 2002 -
Maui Classic Invitational (at Lahaina, HI)
Kentucky - 82 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 17th by AP]
Arizona State - 65 (Head Coach: Rob Evans) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 43, Arizona State 30
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Maryland 68 - 78|||||Virginia 61 - 75|
Game Writeup - Written by Darrell Bird; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats impressive in 82-65 win over Arizona State
LAHAINA, Maui -- Putting as much distance between the exhibition and regular seasons as Hawaii is from the mainland, Kentucky rolled to an impressive 82-65 win over Arizona State in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday.
"That was exhibition, this was the real season," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We knew there were some things to improve upon and after a film session, we did improve. Our transition defense was much better. Our half-court defense was better. You can see that we're bonding and beginning to come together."
Kentucky held Arizona State to just 36.5 percent shooting while forcing 15 turnovers and blocking eight shots. On the flip side, the new flex offense began to gel with the Cats piling up 82 points and 51 percent shooting.
"We know what type of team we are," junior guard Gerald Fitch said. "Our confidence was high from the jump, and you usually don't see that from most teams."
Obviously, Kentucky has moved beyond the exhibition loss to Team Nike in its last outing.
"Nobody even gave the exhibitions a thought," Fitch said. "You think about something like that and it can take away your confidence."
For the game, Kentucky was led in scoring by senior Keith Bogans with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He added a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and one steal.
"Keith is our All-American," coach Tubby Smith said. "We expect him to deliver a game like that night in and night out. And Keith cherishes having that placed upon him."
After Bogans, UK had Marquis Estill with 14 points, Antwain Barbour and Gerald Fitch with 13 points each and Jules Camara with nine points in just 10 minutes of action.
"This is what the new offense is supposed to look like," Fitch said. "Run and gun and try to get the shot up."
Kentucky raced out to a 20-9 lead showing a confidence, aggressiveness and intensity not seen in the two exhibition games. Camara, despite not starting, scored seven of the 20 points.
UK pushed out to a 20-point lead at 38-18 thanks in part to the hot hand of Josh Carrier, who banged home two straight three-pointers. After Arizona State cut the lead to a dozen on different occasions, the Cats pushed back out to 21-point edge at 66-45 and cruised home.
"We played well offensively and that helps with your defense and all aspects of the game," Smith said. "Making shots early helped set the tempo for us."
Kentucky (1-0) returns Tuesday at 2 p.m. (7 p.m. EST) to face Virginia (2-0), a 86-72 winner over tourney host Chaminade. The Cavaliers were led by 6-8, 255-pound forward Travis Watson who had 14 rebounds and 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Elton Brown, a 6-9, 270-pound sophomore, came off the bench for a team-high 22 points in just 22 minutes.
"We bring a video coordinator on trips with us and I'd say the film is broken down as we speak," Smith said. "We'll break Virginia down, but we already know they're a very good team. Mostly, we'll concentrate on what we do best and improve the areas we need to improve. You do that and things generally take care of themselves."
Fitch Injury. The only injury during the tourney opener was a strained back suffered by Gerald Fitch. He will play Tuesday.
"I tried to take a charge and I didn't get the call," Fitch said. " I just kind of strained my back and it tightened up a little. I just agitated it."