Saturday, March 21, 1998
Put up your Dukes
Kentucky gets rematch after routing UCLA

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

mohammed
UK's Nazr Mohammed blocks a shot by UCLA's J.R. Henderson.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It took 32 victories, but Tubby Smith's first Kentucky basketball team has all but erased the anguish of Rick Pitino's departure. Now it can bust the last ghost of the Pitino era.

The worst four-letter word in Lexington - Duke - is the last obstacle on UK's road to the Final Four. Blitzing UCLA 94-68 Friday night at Tropicana Field, the Wildcats (32-4) advanced to a South Region championship showdown with the Blue Devils (32-3) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

''Everybody got their wish,'' UK junior guard Wayne Turner said. ''Regardless of all the talk about past UK-Duke games, they're one of the top teams this year, we're one of the top teams, and I'm pretty sure this is gonna be a good one.''

Since beating Duke in the 1978 NCAA finals, UK has lost four straight to the Blue Devils. Two of those were regional finals matchups: Duke won 55-54 in the Mideast Region title game in 1980, and 104-103 in overtime in the East Region finals in 1992.

men's ncaa logo
Sweet 16
FRIDAY'S GAMES
South Regional
  • Duke 80,
    Syracuse 67
  • Kentucky 94,
    UCLA 68
    Midwest Regional
  • Stanford 67,
    Purdue 59
  • Rhode Island 74,
    Valparaiso 68

    TODAY'S GAMES
    West Regional

  • Arizona (30-4) vs.
    Utah (28-3), 3:40 p.m.
    East Regional

  • North Carolina (33-3)
    vs. UConn (32-4), 6 p.m.

    Men's bracket

  • The latter, in which Duke's Christian Laettner made an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer, is the wound that hasn't healed. The schools haven't met since.

    ''We've heard about it a lot from the fans,'' UK senior swingman Allen Edwards said. ''They're always saying, 'Let's get them back.' ''

    This is UK's fourth consecutive Elite Eight appearance and sixth in the last seven seasons. The Wildcats are in sight of their third consecutive Final Four appearance, which would be a first in school history.

    UK has now won 10 straight games, by an average of 20.7 points. The average victory margin the last five games is 24.6 points.

    Friday, the Wildcats broke from the gate like it was Derby Day. Edwards scored 10 seconds into the game, and less than 2 1/2 minutes later, UK had built an 11-2 lead.

    The Wildcats, a genteel lot off-court, were ruthless intimidators Friday. They blocked six shots and sank two three-pointers in the first six minutes. In one telling sequence, it stuck an early dagger in UCLA's side: Nazr Mohammed rebounded a ball from the seat of his pants and passed upcourt, where Edwards swooped up and under the basket for a ferocious jam.

    ''We sent a message: We weren't going to let them in the game,'' UK sophomore center Jamaal Magloire said.

    sheppard
    UK's Jeff Sheppard shoots over UCLA's Rico Hines.
    (Gary Landers photo)
    | ZOOM |
    After 5 1/2 minutes, UK led by double-digits at 16-5. A minute later, Myron Anthony - UK's 11th man - had already played and scored. After another minute, with the lead 20-5, UK was shooting a blistering 67 percent (8-for-12) and holding UCLA to 12.5 percent (2-for-16). After 10 minutes, the Bruins were broken. Their players were winded, their bench shallow. It was like hitting the iceberg, then having to wait two hours to submerge.

    At halftime, UK led 40-23. The Wildcats had shot 48.4 percent, held UCLA to 25.7 percent, forced 14 turnovers, and held the Bruins star Toby Bailey scoreless.

    Bailey, a senior swingman, was considered the X-factor most likely to unnerve UK. UK negated Bailey's athleticism by shuttling in several players to defend him. That strategy also worked last week against Saint Louis star Larry Hughes, who made just four of 17 shots.

    The Bruins opened the second half with a 7-1 run to cut the lead to 41-30, but Turner restored order with back-to-back fast-break layups. Senior guard Jeff Sheppard made a three-pointer, then scored on a fast-break on the next possession.

    bench
    Cameron Mills, Scott Padgett and Nazr Mohammed cheer teammates in the final moments.
    (Gary Landers photo)
    | ZOOM |
    It was 50-30, all over but the shouting. (Or rather, chanting: ''We want Duke. We want Duke.'')

    UK leads its series with Duke 10-6. After Friday, UK leads its series with UCLA 4-2. UCLA and UK, which lead the nation with 11 and six national titles, respectively, had met just twice in the previous 37 years.

    Sheppard and junior forward Scott Padgett led UK Friday, scoring 16 points apiece, and Mohammed added 15 points.

    Friday's games were played before a crowd of 40,589, a regional semifinal record. The old mark was 34,614 two years ago at the Georgia Dome for an East Region session that included Massachusetts-Arkansas and Georgetown-Texas matchups.

    Wildcats outclass Bruins Paul Daugherty column

    UCLA (68)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Reed            31  2-13   3-5  7-10  0  3    7
    Johnson         33  7-15   1-2   4-8  1  3   18
    Henderson       36  5-20   0-0   3-9  1  2   10
    Bailey          35  4-15   7-8  5-11  3  4   16
    Watson          34   1-8   4-4   1-2  2  2    6
    Knight           2   1-2   1-1   2-2  0  0    3
    Daley            3   2-3   0-0   1-1  0  0    4
    Ramasar          1   0-0   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
    Harbour          1   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
    Loyd             3   0-0   0-0   1-1  1  0    0
    Hines           18   1-2   2-2   3-4  0  3    4
    Mcgautha         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    Farnham          2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    _______________________________________________
    TOTALS         200 23-79 18-22 27-50  9 17   68
    _______________________________________________
    
    Percentages: FG-.291, FT-.818. 3-Point Goals:
    4-19, .211 (Johnson 3-8, Bailey 1-5, Watson 0-4,
    Knight 0-1, Daley 0-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked
    shots: 6 (Reed 3, Bailey 2, Watson). Turnovers:
    19 (Watson 8, Henderson 4, Johnson 3, Bailey,
    Hines, Mcgautha, Reed). Steals: 8 (Reed 2, Watson
    2, Daley, Harbour, Henderson, Hines).
    
    KENTUCKY (94)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Edwards         20   5-6   0-0   0-2  5  3   10
    Padgett         24   6-8   6-6   2-6  4  3   19
    Mohammed        19   6-9   3-5   2-7  0  3   15
    Turner          26   4-7   0-0   0-3  4  1    8
    Sheppard        28  7-14   0-0   0-4  3  3   16
    Masiello         2   0-2   0-0   1-2  0  0    0
    Smith           11   0-1   0-1   1-1  3  1    0
    Evans           21   3-4   4-4   1-2  1  1   10
    Mills           13   0-3   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
    Hogan            3   2-4   0-1   2-2  0  0    6
    Anthony          9   2-4   0-0   1-1  0  0    5
    Bradley          9   1-5   0-0   2-4  1  1    2
    Magloire        15   1-1   1-2   1-5  0  2    3
    _______________________________________________
    TOTALS         200 37-68 14-19 13-40 21 18   94
    _______________________________________________
    
    Percentages: FG-.544, FT-.737. 3-Point Goals:
    6-14, .429 (Edwards 0-1, Padgett 1-2, Sheppard
    2-6, Mills 0-1, Hogan 2-3, Anthony 1-1). Team
    rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 14 (Mohammed 6,
    Magloire 6, Evans, Edwards). Turnovers: 13
    (Mohammed 2, Smith 2, Turner 2, Anthony, Bradley,
    Edwards, Magloire, Mills, Padgett, Sheppard).
    Steals: 10 (Turner 3, Magloire 2, Evans,
    Masiello, Padgett, Sheppard, Smith).
    __________________________________
    Ucla               23   45  -   68
    Kentucky           40   54  -   94
    __________________________________
    Technical fouls: None.  A: 40,589. Officials:
    Donnie Gray, Steve Welmer, Jody Sylvester.