- Friday, November 25 2005 -
Liberty - 51 (Head Coach: Randy Dunton) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 81 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 7th by AP and 7th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 36, Liberty 27
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|West Virginia 80 - 66|||||High Point 75 - 55|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Perry Shines Brightest in Cat's Blowout Win
Bobby Perry beat himself up pretty good after he missed a chip shot at the rim in the closing minute of Kentucky's loss to Iowa earlier this week. It didn't take long for him to make up for it, as he scored a career-high 22 points in the Cats; 81-51 thrashing of Liberty at Rupp Arena.
Perry got off to such a sensational start he had already bested his previous career-high of 12 points less than 12 minutes into the game. When he finished off a dunk on a fast break led by Rajon Rondo to make it 24-14 Cats, he was tied with the Flames all by himself at 14.
"Bobby was unbelievable," senior guard Ravi Moss said. "He's been playing really well. It's not a big surprise. I'm just excited he's finishing and going to the basket.
"We've been encouraging him to dunk. He's got hops. Go up and finish with two hands instead of laying it up. He's doing that."
Perry's career game came at the right time for the Cats. In just his second start at UK, Perry ignited the Cats early to make sure there would be no Thanksgiving hangover. He buried a three-pointer from the top of the key on a pick and pop with Rondo for UK's first points, converted a putback, made a free throw and swished two more triples before he capped the career-high with a convincing baseline dunk.
"I've always been taught that when you make a mistake you try and learn from it," Perry said of his reluctance to finish strong. "I've been working on it with my brother (Trans). I can't let it happen again."
Perry said his brother, who moved to Lexington when Perry signed with UK, has proven invaluable in terms of giving him unconditional support while also teaching him the nuances of being an undersized guy in the paint.
"He was a 6-foot-1 center in high school," Perry said. "He has always told me you don't have to be the biggest or tallest in there, but the key is knowing how to use your body."
The work has shown in the past two games, but it's been Perry's learning process since he arrived at UK having to guard former Cat Chuck Hayes that is paying off now.
"Playing against Chuck Hayes everyday made him tough," UK coach Tubby Smith said. "We want him to use what he learned (from Hayes).
"He's getting playing time and confidence. He's worked hard on his game. He's been committed and dedicated to getting better. Now he's getting an opportunity and he's making the most of it."
As outstanding as Perry was, there were other bright spots for UK. The Cats dispatched of Liberty with relative ease, leading the entire way, but it was a suffocating second half defense that turned a moderately close game into a 30-point route.
After taking a nine-point lead into the break, the Cats methodically pushed the lead further and further out as the Flames struggled to get anything going offensively. More than 12 minutes into the second half, UK had allowed just eight points and three field goals to the Flames since intermission.
Despite a continued struggle at the free throw line Ð UK made just 55.6 percent Ð the Cats controlled the glass, took care of the basketball and continued to shoot exceptionally well from long-range. Included in the three-point barrage was Rondo's 3-of-4 mark from deep, part of his 13-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound effort.
"We have been shooting the ball from three very well," Smith said. "I'd like to see us shoot better from inside the line though."
It's early yet, meaning UK has plenty of time to work on its shortcomings, but if Perry can continue to play the way he has, the Cats could have found a diamond in the rough.
"He's playing with a lot of confidence and it shows," senior guard Patrick Sparks said. "Bobby is tough. He's always in the right position. He knows where to be and he plays tough defense."
On this night, it all came together for Perry.
Liberty's Damien Hubbard gets hemmed in by Jared Carter (#43) and Ramel Bradley (#3)
Adam Williams (#25) scores his first basket as a Kentucky Wildcat
Patrick Sparks (#22) shoots a layup