- Tuesday, December 23 2003 -
Eastern Kentucky - 72 (Head Coach: Travis Ford) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 101 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 2nd by AP and 1st by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 48, Eastern Kentucky 32
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Indiana 80 - 41|||||Louisville 56 - 65|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Warm up act: Cats rip Eastern Kentucky 101-72
It would have been easy for the Kentucky basketball team to overlook Eastern Kentucky with Christmas two days away and a showdown with rival Louisville on Saturday.
But the Cats (7-0) showed no signs of a lack of focus, running its way past the Colonels 101-72 at Rupp Arena.
UK began the game on an 18-4 spurt and led by 16 at halftime. Much like the Indiana game just three days prior, the Cats stormed out of the intermission, using a 32-10 burst to put the game far out of reach.
"I thought we were sharp," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We've gotten off to good starts in every game. That's been a big key in controlling the tempo of the game."
The blowout also allowed Smith to get some valuable court time for a bench that has been lacking through six games. Although the reserves turned the ball over 15 times, there were bright spots, including six points each from freshmen seven-footers Lukasz Obrzut and Shagari Alleyne.
"It gave them some confidence," Smith said. "Woo used his left hand and hit some jump shots. Then they think 'Hey, Coach trusts me.'"
As for the starters, the Cats were as good as they have been all year. The quintet made 33-of-44 shots from the field and dished out 24 assists. Gerald Fitch scored 26, including 21 after halftime.
During one stretch in the second half, Fitch scored 11 straight points and 16 of 20 for the Cats. Erik Daniels nearly had a triple-double, scoring 15 points, dishing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.
"I wasn't thinking about point totals," Fitch said. "My teammates did a good job of finding me. I give them all the credit."
Like it has been the past two seasons, the Cats once again thrived by passing the ball like it was a hot potato. Daniels led UK with eight assists, while Fitch and Cliff Hawkins each added six dimes. The passing game has quickly become UK's calling card.
"We're all unselfish," junior Chuck Hayes said. "Coach is always stressing to make the extra pass and make your teammates look good. If we don't, Coach gets in us."
Hawkins said the team has a friendly competition when it comes to passing.
"Erik played point guard in high school and he's always bragging he'll beat me in assists," Hawkins said. "He might get second."
The passing led to a tremendous shooting effort, as the Cats hit 64.2 percent from the field, the second time in three games they broke the 60 percent mark. UK also dominated the paint and in transition, plus hit 11 three pointers.
Now comes Christmas and the Louisville game.
"I don't want to do all that talking," Hawkins said. "I just want to play. We can play tomorrow if you want."
The Cats' time will come Saturday at 5 p.m. in Rupp Arena.
Shagari Alleyne stuffs
Kelenna Azubuike (#24) with a 2-handed flush