- Monday, November 14 2005 -
Lipscomb - 49 (Head Coach: Scott Sanderson) - [Preseason Unranked by AP]
Kentucky - 67 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Preseason Ranked 9th by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 30, Lipscomb 22
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|South Dakota State 71 - 54|||||Iowa 63 - 67|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Small Lineup Helps Cats Survive Scare
When the organizers of the Guardians Classic designed the tournament brackets this off-season, they made an effort to make sure the four powerhouses in the field arrived in Kansas City unscathed. However, someone forgot to tell Lipscomb and the Bisons gave Kentucky everything they had before the Cats pulled away for a 67-49 win at Rupp Arena.
UK (2-0) led for the final 32 minutes of the game, but there were plenty of anxious moments in the second half as Lipscomb whittled the Cats' lead to just two points on several occasions. The Cats held strong and made just enough plays to keep their advantage before putting the Bisons away with a 17-5 run in the late going.
"This was a real battle," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "There was really a gut check point and the guys we had in at the end did an excellent job. We came up with some clutch, clutch plays."
Although the Cats advanced to play the winner of the Iowa City regional – likely the Iowa Hawkeyes – it wasn't without a fight. UK coach Tubby Smith abandoned his usual propensity to substitute at will and made just one change over the game's final 12:38. During that span, Smith went with a small, quick lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ravi Moss and Ramel Bradley on the perimeter and Sheray Thomas and Rekalin Sims down low.
"I felt like we needed some quickness and defensive presence," Smith said. "Joe (Crawford) and Patrick (Sparks) were having trouble guarding guys off the dribble. We really needed more energy and Ravi brought that."
The smaller lineup worked to near perfection. The triumvirate of Moss, Rondo and Bradley scored the Cats' final 21 points thanks to a spaced offensive set that allowed Rondo and Bradley to penetrate and force the defense to commit. Rondo finished with a career-high 19 points, but it was two three-pointers by Moss and four straight points by Bradley that helped UK push the lead out.
"They took the two big kids out and played a small team," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. "They basically went to the weave (offense) out top and we couldn't keep Ron…however you say his name, in front of us. The last five minutes they spread the floor and (Rondo) is so crafty with the ball, then (Moss) hit some back-breaking threes."
UK needed every one of those clutch plays down the stretch. Lipscomb proved its worth right out of the chute, claiming a 9-3 lead before UK harassed the Bisons into missing 14 of their next 15 shots and took a 22-11 lead. Thanks to nine offensive rebounds, Lipscomb cut the lead to 30-22 at the half and then started chipping away behind a dizzying array of pull-up jumpers from reserve forward Eddie Ard.
While Ard was scoring 15 of Lipscomb's 17 points during one stretch, Smith was trying about every defender he had on the floor against the 6-foot-5 scorer, without much luck.
"He's pretty good," Moss said with a laugh. "I'd have a hand in his face and think there was no way (the shot) was going in and sure enough it went in anyway."
Smith had an even simpler explanation for Ard's 22-point performance.
"We tried everyone on him, Smith said of Ard. "We started with Rekalin and he hit shots. We tried Sheray and he hit shots. That's when we went with Ravi, but without much success. He looked like he was playing in his backyard."
UK now faces a much stiffer challenge when it travels to Kansas City, as West Virginia has already advanced to the final four, while Texas and Iowa should. All four participants will be ranked in the Top 25, meaning the Cats must bring their best game and rebound much better than they did in losing the battle of the boards 34-30 to Lipscomb.
Ravi Moss (#2) drives
Rajon Rondo dishes
Patrick Sparks on the move