- Friday, March 25 2005 -
NCAA Austin Regional Semifinals (at Austin, TX)
Kentucky - 62 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Final Rank 7th by AP and 5th by ESPN/USA Today]
Utah - 52 (Head Coach: Ray Giacoletti) - [Final Rank 18th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 29, Utah 24
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Cincinnati 69 - 60|||||Michigan State 88 - 94 2 OT|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Bogus Bogut: Cats punish Utes
AUSTIN, Texas - Utah All-American center Andrew Bogut planned to "punish" Kentucky's post players in their Sweet 16 matchup. UK hatched the scheme to throw its three seven-footers at Bogut and frustrate him into a poor game.
UK's plan worked to near perfection and the result is the Cats are just 40 minutes away from a Final Four after slugging their way to a 62-52 victory in front of 16,239 fans at the Frank Erwin Center. Although Bogut scored 20 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, he looked worn down and frustrated most of the night as UK ran an endless parade of big men at him in the post.
"His whole demeanor seemed frustrated," sophomore Bobby Perry said. "The game plan was to be physical with him and not let them get their cuts. I don't think any other team in the nation has the combination we can throw at people. Woo and Shagari did a tremendous job guarding an All-American. You could tell we frustrated him by the way he was talking to his team."
The physical toll started early. UK starting center Randolph Morris was gone with two fouls just 90 seconds into the game, forcing UK coach Tubby Smith to go to Lukasz Obrzut and Shagari Alleyne for most of the first half. The tone for the way UK was going to attack Bogut started when Alleyne swatted a Bogut drive back to the perimeter and then blocked another shot a few possessions later. That block sparked a jawing match between Bogut and UK guard Ramel Bradley, with both receiving technical fouls. When all was said and done at the half, UK owned a 29-24 lead and Bogut had made just three of his 12 shot attempts.
"You are not going to find many people like Shagari," senior Chuck Hayes said. "He's freakishly tall. When he blocked that first one, that set the tone for the game. It made (Bogut) think a little."
While Bogut was struggling to maintain his composure and focus, the Cats were taking the fight to the deliberate Utes. In a game ripe with flying elbows, pushes and shoves, the Cats stayed the aggressor and never let Utah get close enough to feel like it had a chance to overtake the Cats.
"It was definitely a physical game," junior Ravi Moss said. "They try to bang you and bump you when you rebound the ball and take a pass. That's their make up.
"But we responded the right way. We did a good job handling that challenge. We're playing on Sunday and that's what we wanted to do."
The win was an interesting case study for UK. Just one game after the bench scored just two points in a win over Cincinnati, the same group of reserves rang up 26 points on the Utes. The contributions were much needed because Morris played just five minutes, Patrick Sparks made just one shot while being the focus of a box-and-one defense and Kelenna Azubuike got just nine points, most of them late.
"Every game is something different," Hayes said. "Someone steps up this one was definitely on our bench. They did a lot of little things. That's one thing that's great about this team."
But the story was slowing Bogut, who had matter-of-factly stated he wasn't worried about UK's depth at center earlier in the week. After finishing 8-of-19 from the field, 4-of-11 from the free throw line and turning the ball over three times, he still wasn't ready to concede anything.
"It was pretty tough," Bogut said. "Obviously, they banged me around. I couldn't knock a shot down. I struggled to shoot all day. I just couldn't knock them down. I don't think it was anything special they did, it just wasn't my day."
No matter to UK, not when the Cats took one step closer to their ultimate goal.
"His season's over," Obrzut said of Bogut. "We're still playing."
Shagari Alleyne blocks Andrew Bogut's shot
Ramel Bradley looks to pass