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Just days after becoming the fourth No. 1 team in five weeks of rankings, Kentucky travels to Indianapolis? RCA Dome to face rival Indiana. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS at noon ET on Sat., Dec. 20. In one of the best college basketball rivalries, the crowd will be divided at the midcourt line – a sea of red on one end and blue on the other. It?s a border rivalry between the flagship institutions of two basketball-rich states competing in Indy before a crowd of more than 30,000 fans.
The Wildcats enter the contest with an unblemished 5-0 record, including a win Saturday over then-No. 21 Michigan State before a world-record crowd of 78,129 fans in Detroit?s Ford Field. Gerald Fitch was one of four Wildcats to score in double figures with a game-high 25 points.
Indiana has won two in a row to improve its early-season record to 4-3. The Hoosiers knocked off Notre Dame, 66-63, on Dec. 10 before defeating Butler Saturday, 62-50. Earlier in the year, IU dropped road games at both Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.
Fitch Named SEC Player of the Week
Guard Gerald Fitch was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Monday after totaling 25 points in UK?s 79-74 win over Michigan State Saturday. Fitch, who ranks fifth in scoring (20.4 ppg) in the league, has won the award once before – Dec. 9, 2002.
Fitch has opened his senior season with a bang, totaling 20 or more points on three occasions, including a career-high, 36-point performance against Tennessee Tech Nov. 28 in Lexington. Against Michigan State, he went 7-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and scored UK?s final three points to help bring home the victory.
The Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana brings a 4-3 record to Indianapolis for its neutral-site battle with the Cats. Sophomore guard Bracey Wright leads the team in scoring wiht 21.1 ppg. His average is 12 points more than the next highest scorer on the IU team.
Seven juniors and seniors grace the IU roster this season. The Hoosiers welcome three newcomers for the 2003-04 season as well, including Pat Ewing Jr., son of NBA great and Houston Rockets? assistant coach Patrick Ewing.
The Wildcats and Hoosiers meet for the 47th time in a series filled with memorable moments. UK leads the series, 25-21, winning eight of the last nine games. The Hoosiers? last victory came on Dec. 4, 1999, an 83-75 win in the RCA Dome.
Last year, UK won a close, physical battle, 70-64, in Louisville?s Freedom Hall to give the Hoosiers their first loss of the year. IU Coach Mike Davis was assessed two technical fouls and ejected late in the game. Cliff Hawkins made his first appearance of the year after missing the fall semester with academic troubles. He had four points, five boards and five assists in 26 minutes.
Thirteen of the last 18 meetings in the series have been decided by 10 points or less, including two overtime games.
In his seventh season at UK, Tubby Smith is 5-1 against IU, while Mike Davis is winless against the Cats in three previous meetings.
Fans may remember Mike Davis playing against Kentucky at Alabama. Davis lettered four years — 1979-83 — signing with Tide coach C.M. Newton after earning Mr. Basketball honors in Alabama. Newton, however, left after Davis? freshman season.
The Crimson Tide played in two NITs and two NCAA Tournaments while Davis was on the roster. He scored more than 1,200 points in his UA career.
When Davis finished playing in the CBA in 1995, he was hired as an assistant at his alma mater by David Hobbs, currently UK?s associate head coach. In ?96, Hobbs and Davis led ?Bama to the NIT Final Four and a 19-13 record the following season.
UK in the RCA Dome
The Cats hold a 7-6 overall record in the RCA Dome and have won two of their past three games in the home of the NFL?s Indianapolis Colts.
Kentucky last played in the venue on Dec. 22, 2001 and earned a 66-52 win over IU. Kentucky?s most heartbreaking loss in the dome came on March 31, 1997 when Arizona defeated the defending NCAA Champs, 84-79 in overtime, in the national championship game.