Wednesday, November 5, 2003

UK 107, Nike Elite 89


Cats impressive in exhibition; Starters Fitch, Daniels combine for 50 points in win

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Those who wondered where Kentucky's offense would come from this basketball season found out during the Wildcats' exhibition opener Tuesday night.

Four players scored in double figures, and returning starters Gerald Fitch and Erik Daniels combined for 50 points to lead the Wildcats past Nike Elite 107-89 at Rupp Arena.

Fitch, a senior guard, scored 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting, and Daniels shot 12-for-21 and finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Had the game counted, Fitch, Daniels and Cliff Hawkins (17 points on 8-for-10 shooting) all would have had career scoring highs and Daniels would have had a career high in rebounds.

Fitch, who played despite the death of his grandmother Sunday in Georgia, scored 12 of Kentucky's first 16 points.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said he was pleased with the Wildcats' success in transition against Nike Elite, a team consisting primarily of former major-college players. The Wildcats scored 30 points off 17 Nike Elite turnovers and shot 55.4 percent.

"We came out, did some things well," Smith said. "I'm a little disappointed in our defense. We gave up too many layups, but I thought we shot the ball well. I was glad to see us make open shots, make jump shots, and that's going to be a real plus for us.

"Overall, I thought we played a good game. We've got a lot of work to do. It's a work in progress."

Nike Elite coach Bill Frieder, the former coach at Michigan and Arizona State, came away impressed.

"They got a real nice team. Every time we did something bad, they made us pay," Frieder said. "Most of these (Nike Elite) guys are out of college. That's the only thing that kept us in it."

Kentucky led 54-44 at halftime, stretched its lead to 20 points early in the second half and weathered a brief rally as Nike Elite closed to 74-64.

Kelenna Azubuike then slammed home an alley-oop pass from Daniels, igniting a 15-6 run that sealed the win. Azubuike, who started his first game at Kentucky, added 14 points and seven rebounds. Kentucky outrebounded Nike Elite 43-31.

"It felt good," Daniels said of the play. "I saw him cutting down the lane. He is the best athlete on the team, and I knew he'd catch it."

Kentucky's 107 points were more than it scored in all but one game last season, when the Wildcats finished 32-4.

Team NikeMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Watkins34101800350621
Richardson24042212252
Blackmon20360061217
Millage21390011417
Mimms3361012512218
Fletcher2761067422218
Cisse277900500014
Jennings13150131102
Totals2003671912311313789
Team rebounds - 3.

KentuckyMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Hawkins2681000242017
Stockton8110010013
Fitch29101622221126
Carrier9020001100
Obrzut4110000102
Cote7120000003
Perry7010010200
Daniels291221001051324
Alleyne15262350106
Thomas3000200000
Azubuike2971200720114
Hayes253834113119
Moss3010000010
LeMaster2000010010
Heissenbuttel3120000003
Totals20046837114317109107
Team rebounds - 3.

Kentucky5453-107
Team Nike4445-89
3-pointers - N 8-18 (Watkins 1-3, Richardson 0-2, Blackmon 1-3, Millage 1-5, Mimms 5-5), UK 8-21 (Hawkins 1-2, Stockton 1-1, Fitch 4-7, Carrier 0-2, Cote 1-2, Perry 0-1, Daniels 0-2, Azubuike 0-2, Hayes 0-1, Heissenbuttel 1-1). Technicals - None. Officials - Boudreaux, Hampton, Nance. Attendance - 15,238.




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