- Saturday, December 11 2004 -
(at Louisville, KY)
Kentucky - 73 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 10th by AP and 11th by ESPN/USA Today]
Indiana - 58 (Head Coach: Mike Davis) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 33, Indiana 24
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Morehead 71 - 40|||||Louisville 60 - 58|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK finds itself in fifth straight win over IU
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tubby Smith has been asking for more from his Kentucky basketball team. More rebounding. More intensity. More team work. More defensive domination.
Smith got all of that from his youthful team – and even gave some more of his own energy – as UK seemingly began to find itself in throttling Indiana 73-58 in front of 20,084 fans at Freedom Hall.
"I thought we came pretty close to finding out who we are," Smith said. "With our defensive pressure I thought we made a statement in holding them to 38 percent.
"Indiana made us do some things, but our kids really stepped up. Everybody who came into the game contributed."
Smith, who was animated throughout the game, nearly fell as his loafers slid across the court in front of the bench during the second half. Like their coach, the Cats were staggered at the outset, watching Indiana drill two three-pointers in route to a 13-4 edge out of the gate. UK responded though, pulling even with the Hoosiers at 15 apiece, before the Cats’ coaching staff made a critical decision.
UK switched from their typical defensive calling card and employed a 2-3 zone on Indiana to slow the Hoosiers’ one-on-one play and force them to make shots. Given that Indiana was shooting a putrid 34.8 percent from the field this season, the decision seemed like a no-brainer and immediately paid big dividends for the Cats. Indiana made just three shots over the final 14 minutes of the half, leaving UK to pull out to a 33-24 edge at the break.
"We zoned them a lot and I thought that's when we made the run in the first half," Smith said. "We did a good job of making them take some time. I thought we would change it up right before the half and with about eight minutes to go in the half we went to zone and extended our pressure. That gave us some turnovers and kept them at bay."
While Indiana was struggling to find the basket, UK's Patrick Sparks began to take over on offense, while 7-foot-3 Shagari Alleyne again gave UK a presence the opponent had no answer for on either end. Sparks scored seven straight points late in the first half to turn a 19-17 deficit into a 24-19 lead, then buried another three-pointer to stretch the lead to 29-22.
Alleyne changed the tempo for the Cats, swatting four shots in the game and slamming home a thunderous dunk off a nifty drop step move as UK thwarted Indiana's last threatening run midway through the second half. Smith said that he was pleased with how all of UK's interior players dominated the paint area, in which UK held a 38-10 points advantage. Time and again UK was able to find the open man out of double teams on the block.
"We you get doubled post to post, the other guy is always open," Hayes said. "It's fundamentals. Basics. If they double team, someone is open."
Although UK was dominating in the paint, Indiana hung around because of the outstanding shooting of Bracey Wright. Wright scored 31 of the Hoosiers' 58 points and made six three-pointers to keep the game close. But the Cats ripped off a 16-2 spurt in the second half after IU had closed within 42-37 on an A.J. Ratliff three-pointer.
"(Indiana) Coach (Mike) Davis had them prepared," Hayes said. "They knew what we were running so it came to execution. Defense kept us in the game. They are scrappy. We had our way with them last year and you always feel threatened when Bracey Wright is shooting the way he did."
In the end though, UK had more than even Wright could counter. For Smith, it was the kind of effort he had been clamoring to see from his team.
COME ON IN
The Cats had been hoping to find a way to be more productive on the interior all season long, but a change in offensive sets might have made the biggest difference against Indiana.
UK's coaching staff implemented a "stack" offense throughout much of the game, placing two players on each side of the lane on the lower blocks. The theory was that without as mobile of big men as the Cats have had in the past, this would allow guys like Randolph Morris and Shagari Alleyne to stay closer to the basket, thus being more effective.
"(Indiana's) alignment allowed our players to be close to the basket," Smith said. "We thought we could get the ball in the paint and score. I liked the way we passed the ball (inside). Indiana doubles post to post so we were able to catch them rotating where they couldn't rotate in time to guard the opposite block."
It worked to perfection, as UK outscored Indiana 38-10 in the paint, held a 33-26 edge in rebounds and controlled the interior all afternoon.
Whether it was trying to get his team more excited or he was just having a ornery day, Tubby Smith was as animated on the sideline as anyone could remember during the game.
Randolph Morris keeps D.J. White in check
Rajon Rondo cuts to the hoop