- Wednesday, February 25 2004 -
Tennessee - 60 (Head Coach: Buzz Peterson) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 92 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 9th by AP and 9th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 44, Tennessee 29
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Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK rolls past Tennessee 92-60
The postseason is just around the corner and Kentucky looks like it might be taking on the form it displayed last season just in time.
The Cats zipped to a 21-9 lead, then cruised the rest of the way, scoring a 92-60 dismantling of Tennessee. It was the first time since late December UK broke the 80-point barrier and first victory by more than 17 points over the same time span.
"It was a good all-around effort," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We had great balance, good focus and our concentration was there. You look at the numbers and it was one of our better games."
The win gave UK a 14th consecutive 20-win season, upping the Cats' record to 20-4 overall and 10-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Coupled with South Carolina's loss to Florida earlier Wednesday evening, UK clinched at least a tie for the division crown.
The margin of victory was surprising given the Cats' leading scorer, Gerald Fitch, played just 35 seconds while battling a nasty case of food poisoning. UK made up for that by placing five players in double-digits, including 16 by the mysterious Antwain Barbour. Kelenna Azubuike led UK with 17 points, while Cliff Hawkins added 15, Chuck Hayes 14 and Erik Daniels 12.
Maybe more importantly, UK shot a blistering 58.9 percent from the field and hit 11-of-19 from three-point range, including seven in the first half. For a team that was last in the SEC in three-pointers made during conference play, the shooting exhibition was a shock.
"We're pretty good," Smith said about how good UK is when it hits shots. "We are very solid in most other areas. When we make shots early on, it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent."
After surviving close game after close game for much of the past two months, the Cats have shown flashes of being the dominating team they were a year ago, winning their past three SEC games by an average of 19.3 points. Although no one expects UK to be the team it was a year ago, some similarities are starting to emerge.
"We've been working hard on executing and attacking the basket and all those things," Azubuike said. "That's what we did last year."
Although Tennessee struggles on the road, UK may have also shown how far it's come in just over a month. The Cats edged past the Volunteers in overtime on Jan. 20, but dominated on this night.
"It let's us know we've gotten a lot better," Azubuike said.
Much like last year's jaunt through the league, the outcome was never really in doubt. Tennessee scored the game's first five points, but UK brushed past them to go up 21-9 at 12:28. Another run upped the lead to 42-24 before UK settled for a 44-29 halftime edge. The second half was merely a formality after that as the lead continued to grow.
Kelenna Azubuike shoots over Dane Bradshaw