- Saturday, February 15 2003 -
Louisiana State - 57 (Head Coach: John Brady) - [Unranked]
|Collis Temple III||34||3||13||2||8||5||6||2||4||6||2||2||2||0||4||13|
Kentucky - 68 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 3rd by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 27, Louisiana State 21
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Georgia 87 - 67|||||Arkansas 66 - 50|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats survive poor shooting, beat LSU 68-57
For weeks now, Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith has been telling anyone who will listen that a team can play solid defense even when it seems nothing else is going right.
Smith now has tangible proof to prove his point, as UK survived a poor shooting game by playing sticky defense in holding off LSU 68-57 before 22,483 fans at Rupp Arena. With the victory, UK (20-3) extended the nation's longest current winning streak to 14 games and are now 10-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
"There is one good thing, we still won the game," Smith said. "We struggled, but we can evaluate and learn from this. We played good defense today…we had to."
The Cats hit just 39.3 percent for the game, but went just 10-of-31 during a cold first half. Still, UK snatched 12 offensive rebounds during the half, and used 15 points off LSU turnovers to claim a 27-21 edge at intermission.
After allowing LSU (14-9, 3-8 SEC) to claw within 34-30 with 14:41 left, the Cats ran off a 20-5 spurt to stretch the lead to 20, seemingly putting the Tigers away for good. But LSU responded with an identical 20-5 run to get within five with less than a minute remaining before the Cats went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe to seal the win.
"I'm proud of our guys because we kept our composure," Smith said. "I had to convince our players they'd have a battle on their hands."
Although UK wasn't making shots – the starters hit just 17 of 47 – aggressive rebounding by an injured Chuck Hayes and timely three-pointers from Keith Bogans and Gerald Fitch carried UK through. Bogans finished with a team-high 20 points, while Fitch added 15, all but two in the second half. But it was Hayes' battling on the glass that really sparked the Cats, especially since a fall in practice had threatened to sideline the sophomore.
"Chuck set the tone," Smith said. "He's got a bad back and is in (the locker room) right now with spasms. What a courageous kid."
Antwain Barbour, who may have finally busted out of his slump with six points and six rebounds, said Hayes' play was the energy UK needed.
"He's a warrior," Barbour said. "Most people wouldn't have played, but he played with that energy and did everything he could do."
Even with the good things UK did, the Cats didn't come anywhere close to the type of efforts they had been displaying heading into the game, something Smith said he sensed before tip-off.
"You can get complacent and I sensed that going into the game," Smith said. "There has been a lot of hype surrounding this game with our win streak, and there is going to continue to be so we have to learn to deal with prosperity."
As for the defense, UK held LSU to just 37 percent from the field and outrebounded the Tigers 46-30 to control the game, giving Smith's pledge that defense will win ugly games some credibility.
"A game like will humble us a lot," Fitch said. "We got comfortable a little bit because we had been on a nice streak, but we came out with a win. What more can you ask for?"
Chuck Hayes (#44) hurdles an LSU defender