- Saturday, February 8 2003 -
Kentucky - 80 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 6th by AP]
Mississippi - 62 (Head Coach: Roderick Barnes) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 44, Mississippi 20
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Florida 70 - 55|||||Georgia 87 - 67|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
The beat goes on, UK drubs Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. – All that talk of an inevitable letdown Kentucky would suffer after thrashing Florida just four days earlier? Somebody forgot to tell the Cats, as UK continued its roll by ripping Ole Miss 80-62 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
"Kentucky is the best ‘team' in this league in the last two or three years," Ole Miss Coach Rod Barnes said. "I don't want to put any pressure on Coach Smith, but I didn't say most ‘talented,' I mean ‘team.' They beat us in every way, and they've been doing that to everyone."
The victory followed UK's recent pattern of blitzing the opponent with a decisive first half surge, then letting up a hair in the second half, but never really letting anyone back into the game. The Cats 18-3, 8-0 SEC) outscored Ole Miss 19-4 to start the game, led by 24 at halftime, then cruised the rest of the way.
"I was happy with the way we responded," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "I liked our intensity and energy to start the game. But one area that I was disappointed in was the second half. We had some real major breakdowns with our post defense."
It didn't matter much, especially with Erik Daniels scoring a career-high 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting just one day after Smith said he wasn't sure if the junior would play because of an infected gland in his armpit. Daniels sported a long sleeve T-shirt to cover the lump, but it sure didn't seem to affect his game.
"Erik is real superstitious," junior Gerald Fitch said of his roommate. "He'll start to where (the T-shirt) now. We talked about it and I knew he was going to play, but Coach had his doubts."
Naysayers also had expressed doubt that UK could possibly be ready to play after the emotional rout of Florida earlier in the week. Those fears were easily erased when UK scored the game's first 11 points, then ran off another 15-2 run late in the first half. True to form, UK held Ole Miss (12-8, 3-6) to just 25.9 percent shooting in the half, while hitting 63.3 percent of its own shots.
"You can't play against a team like that and get behind by so many points and then try to come back," Barnes said. "Going into the game, we felt like we had to have a good start, but they jumped us.
"It wasn't us, it was them."
Although the Rebels shot 70 percent in the second half as UK lost focus, the Cats still were able to breathe easy in an arena where they have struggled in recent trips. Much of the credit could go to Daniels, who once again should how important he has been to the team's chemistry and unselfishness.
"They are all capable of scoring 18 points in a game," Barnes said of UK's players. "But to me, (Daniels) is a player I really enjoy watching. He understands the game, he picks his time and he understands his role. You think he's nonchalanting it, but as a coach, he's doing all the little things."
Bogans also played a terrific game, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Chuck Hayes added 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Marquis Estill swatted five shots. Justin Reed led the Rebs with 14 points, all in the second half.
Gerald Fitch drives past Mississippi's Emmanuel Wade