Sunday, February 15, 2004

Smith fumes as Bulldogs jump Wildcats


Coach questions team's toughness

By Pat Forde
The Courier-Journal

ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Kentucky basketball team flinched Saturday against Georgia, leading to an unflinching rip job from its coach.

[img]
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith is less than pleased. "It just rips your heart out. That bothers me, when guys don't reach down for the challenge," he said after UK lost again to Georgia.
(AP photo)
Tubby Smith, who might value physical and mental toughness above all other basketball attributes, has seen his Wildcats play soft twice this season against the inartistic-but-aggressive Bulldogs. Not coincidentally, he has seen his No. 8-ranked team stunningly lose twice to the last-place outfit in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.

After Saturday's 74-68 upset in Stegeman Coliseum, a fierce affair that featured 55 free throws, four technical fouls and an intentional foul, Smith buried his team for avoiding the fight.

"(A loss like this) is so disappointing," he said. "It just rips your heart out. That bothers me, when guys don't reach down for the challenge."

The leaders Smith was especially unhappy with were his post men, Erik Daniels and Chuck Hayes.

Daniels had just four points and four rebounds in 37 minutes of play, his second straight low-impact game after being named the SEC Player of the Week last Monday. He hasn't shot a free throw in two games.

Hayes had nine points, nine rebounds, five turnovers and missed several point-blank shots and half his six foul shots.

"When Chuck's missing layups like that ... it's just ridiculous," Smith said. "Erik was just running around. He was scared to death.

"Chuck looked like he was running around looking - I don't know what he was looking for. Erik's throwing up hook shots running away from the basket. They looked like they hadn't been taught how to go aggressively to the basket."

Georgia, which scored just 39 points in a 22-point loss to Vanderbilt Wednesday, improved to 12-10 overall, just 4-7 in SEC play. The Bulldogs remain in the NCAA Tournament picture, having beaten Georgia Tech and now Kentucky twice.

The Wildcats, in a five-game stretch against teams with losing SEC records that was supposed to help them all but lock up the East, fell to 17-4, 7-3 in the league. UK lost for the first time in three games without leading scorer Gerald Fitch, who is nursing a sprained index finger on his shooting hand.

Kelenna Azubuike led the Wildcats with a career-high 23 points, at times single-handedly keeping Kentucky in the game in the second half. He filled much of the offensive void left by Fitch, who stayed home in Lexington. So, apparently, did Kentucky's toughness.

That's a bad thing when the opponent is the Bulldogs, whose confrontational defensive style under first-year coach Dennis Felton puts a premium on playing through contact.

"We certainly knew what to expect coming in here, and we didn't respond," Smith said. "... They're very aggressive defensively, very physical. They deny passes, hit you hard on boxouts. You've got to be ready and be ready to attack and be more aggressive."

KentuckyMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Hawkins2551245234316
Daniels37250045404
Azubuike3671477644123
Barbour25150020242
Hayes27373691359
Moss21340031319
Stockton5010001020
Carrier6110010332
Obrzut15121340113
Cote2000000000
Thomas1000010320
Totals200235115213215272268
Team rebounds - 3.

GeorgiaMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Wright381141118212014
Wilkins3861422455114
Stukes3041202354212
Hayes3081133614419
Daniels32243492427
Wehunt3000000100
Newman14111230313
Sikes15123342205
Totals200235823343116251274
Team rebounds - 7.

Kentucky3137-68
Georgia2351-74
3-pointers - UK 7-18 (Hawkins 2-6, Azubuike 2-4, Barbour 0-2, Hayes 0-1, Moss 3-4, Stockton 0-1). Technicals - K 2 (Hayes, Thomas). Officials - N/A. Attendance - 10,523.




REDS SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW
O'Brien looking to turn it around
Here's the drill: It's back to basics
Locked in, if not loaded
You'll know it's a good spring if ...
You'll know it's a bad spring if ...
Five Reds on the spot
Five young Reds to watch

MORE BASEBALL
Bronx bombshell in works
A-Rod to Yankees makes perfect $ense
Preseason power rankings

BENGALS / NFL
Bengals seeking skill off field, too
Rude reception awaits Clarett

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The Tourney race is on
Cage's confidence music to surging Muskies' ears
UC looks for a shot in the arm
Daugherty: Prosser finds self at home
Huggins ailing but expected to coach
Smith fumes as Bulldogs jump Wildcats
Top 25: Stanford, St. Joe's still unbeaten
Shields' home finale a classic
Brock powers NKU women

PREP SPORTS
Groeschen: Brackets offer great potential
Ernst: No rest for weary Clippers
CHCA, Landmark win titles
Kennedy leads Walton to win
Swimming: Lions leave competition in their wake
Wrestling: Fairfield back on top
Gymnastics: Anderson captures team championship
Prep sports results, schedules

PAGE TWO
Good Sports: Talented family making quite a racket
What's up with that? Odds and ends in the news
A quick chat with ... Jerry Jones
Planning ahead
All thumbs
Comeys have made squash a family affair

DAYTONA 500
Daytona victory eluding Little E
Top stories not limited to race's winning driver
Why I hate NASCAR
Why I love NASCAR

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Daly turns back clock to 1995
Pacers' Jones wins dunk contest despite miss
Nona Gaye sings national anthem with late father
Sports digest
Sports on TV, radio

THIS WEEK'S POLL QUESTION
How do you feel about Joe Nuxhall's replacement?