- Wednesday, December 22 2004 -
William & Mary - 47 (Head Coach: Tony Shaver) - [Unranked]
|Edwin Ofori Attah||19||2||4||1||3||0||0||2||1||3||3||0||0||0||6||5|
Kentucky - 92 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 8th by AP and 10th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 44, William & Mary 19
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Louisville 60 - 58|||||Campbell 82 - 50|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Matt May; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
No hangover for the Cats in easy victory
All the ingredients were in place -- a no name opponent, the leftover emotions from the Louisville victory, a wintry December night and visions of Christmas just days away. But the Kentucky basketball team was not in the mood for a hangover, instead the Cats thrashed William & Mary 92-47 in front of 18,059 fans at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (8-1) dominated from the outset in opening up a 30-9 lead on the Tribe. The Cats were so overwhelming, William & Mary had more turnovers than field goal attempts throughout most of the first half and didn't get a rebounds until nearly six minutes had expired off the game clock.
"It was a fun game," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "The guys were playing the right way. We were distributing and moving the ball."
The 27 assists UK dished out on the night had to be a sight for Smith's sore eyes. Just a day before the contest, Smith lamented how poorly his team was sharing the basketball, more so because they weren't finding the right man at the right time than just plain being unselfish. Neither was a problem against the Tribe, as UK had 15 assists in the first half alone.
Smith said he thought the coaching staff's usage of a "no dribble" drill in practice helped the Cats distribute the basketball better.
"It looked effective," Smith said. "You could hear us saying, 'Pass it, pass it.' I thought it was the ideal time (for the lesson) coming off a close win against Louisville to get the guys to understand we need to share the ball more.
"We are starting to get better flow and a smoother transition to offense."
Chief among the passing party was Patrick Sparks, who after scoring 25 points against Louisville, went scoreless on the night but handed out seven assists. Freshman Ramel Bradley added five more dimes to the mix, something senior Chuck Hayes said proves this team's ability to learn.
"In the first half, Coach was really stressing to share the ball and pass to the open man," Hayes said. "Everyone was getting involved. We did (the drill) a lot because you always talk about moving the ball. If you think about it, a defender can't outrun a pass."
William & Mary couldn't outrun much of anything against the Cats. The Tribe didn't hit their first two-point bucket until 7:14 remained in the first half and were bullied in the paint to the tune of a 54-8 edge for UK in points in the paint.
"They're pretty good," William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said. "To me, the biggest part was the physical nature. There were times I though we had position and still didn't get (the rebound). It's just a different level of physical strength."
For the Cats, it was all about responding the right way after an emotional victory and getting some of the players who see less court time a bit more involved. Smith was certainly effective in that area, as nine Cats played at least 11 minutes and 13 players broke into the scoring column.
"It was up in the air," Hayes said of how UK would respond. "We all wondered how we'd respond. I think we did well."
Hayes also broke out of his shooting slump, hitting 8-of-10 shots for a season-high 18 points, while Kelenna Azubuike added 17 and freshman Joe Crawford 12.
There is only one more warm up act before the Southeastern Conference play begins in earnest, but UK couldn't be happier with how they handled the potential distractions surrounding this game.
Rajon Rondo provided the highlight reel play of the night for the Cats after his acrobatic bank shot while drawing a foul.
Rondo took an Azubuike pass on the fast break and went up for the lay-up only to have William & Mary's Adam Dutton contest his shot and hack Rondo on the arm. Instead of trying to power through Dutton, Rondo turned himself around in the air and threw a blind shot over his head that banked in to give UK a 17-6 lead early in the contest.
"Unbelievable," Smith said. "He turned his back and then threw it up over his shoulder. He just has great athleticism, coordination and the ability to hang in the air."
For the first time in recent memory, most of the Cats will get to travel home for the holidays since Christmas is on a weekend and UK has a week off before it's next game.
Of course, a nasty winter storm was sweeping across the Commonwealth and travel plans were dicey for pretty much everyone around. Hayes, who planned on flying home to California on Thursday morning, said he would irate if he can't get home to his family.
"I heard a rumor that (Bluegrass Airport) might cancel all the flights," Hayes said. "I will be SO mad. I will cry. I HAVE to get home."
Bobby Perry rises for two points
Ravi Moss shoots in front of a William & Mary defender