- Wednesday, December 31 2003 -
(at Louisville, KY)
Kentucky - 61 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 8th by AP and 6th by ESPN/USA Today]
Austin Peay - 53 (Head Coach: Dave Loos) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 26, Austin Peay 12
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Louisville 56 - 65|||||North Carolina 61 - 56|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
"Frustrated" Cats muddle past Austin Peay
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky coach Tubby Smith was so frustrated and disgusted with his team's play, a late timeout turned into a clipboard tossing contest.
At the last television timeout with 3:58 remaining and UK (8-1) clinging to a 53-49 lead over Austin Peay, Smith slammed his clipboard to the Freedom Hall floor and stormed out of the huddle. The Cats responded by allowing a runout lay-in by Maurice Hampton in just three seconds.
It was that kind of night for the Cats, but they still held on for a 61-53 victory in front of a sparse crowd of 11,526 fans for the late New Year's Eve afternoon tip.
"I just dropped it," Smith said of the clipboard before rolling his eyes. "I was frustrated. It was a 3-point game and we let them back in. It's like we lost our focus."
The Cats were disjointed the entire game, scoring just 26 points in the first half, including a nearly seven-minute drought during which Smith sat his starters down in an attempt to get more energy. Although UK held the Governors to just 12 first half points, poor shooting (38 percent) again had UK scuffling.
"Sometimes shots fall, sometimes they don't" senior Cliff Hawkins said. "You have to find ways to get defensive stops and we gave up too many big plays."
After giving up just those 12 points in the first half, the Cats were scorched for 41 in the final 20 minutes, as Austin Peay shot over 52 percent and Anthony Davis nailed four three-pointers and scored all of his 15 points. Despite leading by 17 with 13:24 left, UK lost focus and allowed a 27-12 run that cut the lead to 53-51 with 3:55 remaining.
Austin Peay had a chance to cut the deficit to one, but Rhet Wierzba was long on two free throw attempts at 1:30 left, as UK shut out the Governors over the final 2:49 of the contest to pull away.
Still, nobody was smiling in the locker room afterwards.
"We had a win and a win is a win," Hawkins said. "Ugly, pretty, whatever, a win is a win."
Junior Chuck Hayes, who was one of the few Cats to have a solid overall game with 12 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals, was just as blunt about the outcome.
"The game was ugly," Hayes said. "It wasÉI don't know, anyone's ball game. Give them credit, they didn't give up. At the half, they had 12 points and they could have rolled over."
Hayes said UK has a long way to go to find their form of a year ago.
"As a team, we are very frustrated," Hayes said. "Yeah we're 8-1, but we haven't played a complete game yet.
"We have a long ways to go to where we were playing last year."
Hawkins echoed Hayes' assessment.
"Coach is extremely frustrated," Hawkins said. "And if he's not happy, none of us are."
Look out below, Shagari Alleyne dunks
Antwain Barbour looks for an opening
Gerald Fitch is fouled