- Saturday, January 22 2005 -
Louisiana State - 58 (Head Coach: John Brady) - [Unranked]
|Ross Neltner (*)||13||2||3||1||1||2||2||2||0||2||4||0||0||0||1||7|
Kentucky - 89 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 8th by AP and 8th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 49, Louisiana State 36
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Mississippi 53 - 50|||||Tennessee 84 - 62|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Hot shooting, post defense lead UK past LSU
Simplistic as it may sound, the Kentucky basketball team proved a major point in its 89-58 thrashing of a dangerous LSU team, when the Cats are making shots, they are nearly unbeatable.
Kentucky (14-2, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) connected early and often, then frustrated LSU's dynamic inside tandem of Glen Davis and Brandon Bass on the defensive end in putting together perhaps its most complete game all season.
While the Cats held Bass and Davis in check for the most part, UK was knocking down jumpers from all over the court in the opening minutes. Just three days removed from making only five baskets and scoring 16 points in the first half against Ole Miss, the Cats surpassed those marks less than six minutes into the game. Buoyed by a 23-3 run early in the game, UK rushed out to a 49-36 edge at the break on the strength of seven three-pointers.
"It helps anytime you make shots," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "Shooting is the key. If you make shots, everything else will fall into place."
Smith couldn't have been more right. Patrick Sparks hit two quick threes at the outset on his way to five for the game, while Ramel Bradley added two more in the first half. The hot shooting then opened up the paint area, where UK attacked time and again off the bounce and posting up, leading to a 54.2 percent shooting effort.
"Ramel and Rajon (Rondo) can get in the lane whenever they want," Sparks, who finished with 15 points, said. "When they get in the lane, guys have to help on them and me and Kelenna (Azubuike) are open. It makes everything flow a lot easier."
LSU didn't help its cause in turning the ball over 18 times, which the Cats converted into 29 points, most in transition.
"We gave up too many easy baskets off our turnovers," LSU coach John Brady said. "We can't do that. Kentucky played well and made shots. Sparks got them going along the way. Their perimeter outplayed us. Kentucky was just too good for us."
While UK was swishing shots at one end, it was locking down Bass and Davis on the other. The two burly forwards combined for just 23 points on 5-of-14 from the field as the Cats continually doubled down and trapped the post, daring LSU to beat them from outside.
It didn't happen. LSU made just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc and gave precious little help to open up the paint area for its two horses.
"When they can bear down on Brandon and Glen and not respect our perimeter, we can't score," Brady said.
UK said the key was making sure Bass and Davis could not just park themselves in the lane.
"One key was taking Davis out on the floor," sophomore forward Bobby Perry said. "Stay on top of them and not let them get position. When (Davis) has settled in a spot, it's all over. For the most part, we did a good job of keeping the ball off them."
The Cats also used a zone for parts of the second half after LSU cut the lead to eight at 57-49 with 13:43 left. Upon going to the seldom-used zone, the Tigers went into a funk and UK put the game on ice with a 22-5 run to push the lead to 25. The zone was so effective, LSU shot only 22.6 percent from the floor after halftime, including just three field goals the final 14 minutes of play.
"We've been consistent all year (defensively)," Smith said. "We were consistent today and great in the second half. The zone really broke the game open the last six or seven minutes. We kept them from getting it inside."
UK had no such problems thanks to its shooting.
Joe Crawford went to the Rupp Arena scorer's table and checked into the game with 13:27 remaining in the first half. His appearance drew a loud ovation from the UK faithful, proving that everyone in blue seems willing to forgive the freshman guard for his weeklong absence from the program.
Crawford played well in his first game back since leaving the team for a week in an attempt to transfer. The 6-foot-4 guard made his only shot Ð a three-pointer Ð and both free throw attempts, while also grabbing a rebound and dishing out an assist in nine minutes.
"He's been playing well in practice," Smith said. "He's back on the team and like anything else, we have to forgive and move on. I appreciate the fans being very receptive. He's back full tilt and he showed what he is capable of."
Bobby Perry with the flush
Kelenna Azubuike works in traffic as LSU's Ross Neltner (41) defends