UK Notebook: Cats want win for seniors

November 28, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Kentucky will play its bowl game Saturday against Tennessee.

The Cats (4-7) set going to a bowl as a preseason goal but have no chance of fulfilling that goal now. Instead, all they can do is hope to break an 18-game losing streak to Tennessee Saturday and possibly knock the No. 7 Vols out of a BCS bowl.

"It's our last game of the year. It's the last opportunity for our seniors to play together, play for Kentucky and play at Commonwealth Stadium," said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "This one has to be the last hurrah for the senior class. It's the bowl game we so desperately wanted to send them out with."

Brooks said he's not looking to next year and won't play anyone Saturday who doesn't give his team a chance to beat Tennessee.


"I'm not thinking about next year right now. I'm thinking about next year next week, not on Saturday," the Kentucky coach said. "But I do think we have to play a near-perfect game to win."

"We are going to see it as a bowl game for the senior class. They worked their butts off and never stopped," junior defensive tackle Ellery Moore said. "Even when it looked like there was going to be no bowl game last week they still worked. We want to send them off right."

However, Kentucky will have to do that without its most experienced player. Senior offensive tackle Antonio Hall, who has started all 45 previous games in his Kentucky career, will not play because of a concussion he suffered last week at Georgia.

"Obviously, we wish he could play. But there's also a bigger safety concern and he's just not ready," Brooks said.

He hopes receiver-return specialist Derek Abney can play despite breaking a bone in his foot last week. He needs just one punt return yard to become the first NCAA Division I-A player to have 2,000 yards in kickoff returns, 1,000 yards in punt returns and 2,000 receiving yards. He's second on UK's career receptions list with 197 catches.

"He wants to play and we want him to play," Brooks said. "If he does play, it will just be on a limited basis. But we are hoping he'll be able to play because we all know what that record would mean to him."

Special anthem: The country music duo "Montgomery Gentry" will sing the national anthem before UK's football game Saturday.

Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are both avid Kentucky football and basketball fans and it's not unusual for them to have UK games on the radio while they are on the road for concerts.

They'll also be performing a concert at Rupp Arena Dec. 31.

Montgomery lives in Boyle County. He went to school at Danville and now has children attending Boyle County.

Montgomery and his wife, Tracy, will be assisting the Christmas Toy Drive in Danville Sunday. The "Montgomery Gentry" tour bus will be on display near the Danville Fire Station on Main Street for fans to tour in exchange for a donation of $5 or a new toy to the Christmas Toy Drive. Two tour buses will be on display from 1-5 p.m.

Familiar faces: Local fans might see two familiar faces sitting behind the Tennessee Tech bench for tonight's basketball game against Kentucky in Rupp Arena.

Russell County native Steve Payne is an assistant coach on Mike Sutton's staff at Tennessee Tech. His wife is the former Kelli Luttrell of Casey County, a four-year starter for the Casey basketball team. She'll be at the game along with her sister, Emily, another former Casey standout.

Payne was an associate coach at Georgetown College for four years before going to Texas as a junior college coach. He joined Sutton's staff last year when he got the head job at Tech after previously coaching with Tubby Smith at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky.

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