Dec 30, 2002
By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky got over a loss to its archrival by getting in the face of overmatched Tennessee State.
The Wildcats used a full-court press to create turnovers and easy baskets, and they shook off a slow start to beat Tennessee State 115-87 Monday night. The victory helped take some of the sting out of Kentucky’s 18-point loss to Louisville on Saturday.
“We started off slowly,” Wildcats forward Chuck Hayes said. “A loss like that will stick with you. We were still in a depressed mood.”
The 20th-ranked Wildcats (7-3) came out flat against Tennessee State and trailed for much of the first half. Coach Tubby Smith benched his starters and ordered the pressing defense, which rattled the Tigers (2-7).
“Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit agitated, a little bit mad at how you played the last time out in order to improve,” said Smith, whose 81-63 loss to Louisville was the worst in his six seasons at Kentucky. “Instead of feeling sorry for yourselves, you kind of need someone to take it out on. That’s the attitude we need.”
Keith Bogans scored a season-high 26 points and led a decisive second-half spurt. Bogans made three layups and an alley-oop dunk at the start of the second half as the Wildcats pulled away from a seven-point halftime lead.
“We haven’t been pressing a whole lot,” said Bogans. “That leads to easy baskets. Anytime we can get a steal and a layup, that’s a whole lot easier.”
Kentucky scored 27 points off Tennessee State’s 22 turnovers and had 60 points in the paint, many coming on layups as the Wildcats riddled the Tigers’ defense. Kentucky committed 21 turnovers of its own.
Gerald Fitch said the Wildcats caught the Tigers off-guard with their press.
“The way they started, they jumped on us a little bit,” Fitch said. “When we started pressing, we started taking their game away. They didn’t know we could press the way we did.”
Kentucky didn’t take the lead for good until a 3-pointer from the side by Hayes made it 35-32 at the 5:06 mark and triggered a 13-0 run.
Leading 47-40, Kentucky started strong in the second half, outscoring Tennessee State 24-10 in the opening six minutes.
Erik Daniels contributed a field goal and two layups, including an acrobatic reverse move, during the spurt.
Marquis Estill scored 15 points for Kentucky while Daniels had 14 and Hayes 13. Estill had a game-high 11 rebounds. Daniels and Bogans each had three steals.
Josh Cooperwood led Tennessee State with 32 points, hitting 13 of 17 from the field and 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point line. Garrett Richardson added 18 for the Tigers.
Tigers coach Nolan Richardson III served the second game of an indefinite suspension for an undisclosed violation of university policy.
The NCAA is investigating the program for rules violations under Richardson. The inquiry involves allegations of impermissible practice out of season, providing extra benefits to recruits and unethical conduct by a coach.
Tennessee State hit six of its first eight shots to pull ahead 12-5 – matching the Tigers’ biggest lead – as Cooperwood and Arvid Caldwell scored six apiece.
Kentucky trailed for much of the first half as the turnover-prone Wildcats seemed tentative against Tennessee State’s zone defense.
Estill had eight points during the 13-0 Kentucky spurt late in the first half, capped by his tip-in of a Cliff Hawkins miss to put the Wildcats up 45-32 with 2:37 remaining.
Brandon Lockridge ended Tennessee State’s scoring drought with a 3-pointer with 2:07 left to make it 45-35. Richardson hit a field goal and free throw and Cooperwood added two free throws to keep Tennessee State close at the end of the half.