Davis looks at UK and sees experience

December 19, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - One thing is immediately apparent to Indiana coach Mike Davis when he watches Kentucky play.

"They just have so much experience," said Davis. "They start three seniors, a junior and a sophomore. Then they bring a senior off the bench in Antwain Barbour. The experience is definitely there.

"In watching them play Michigan State and UCLA, when the other team got close, you could look in their eyes and know that it never fazed them. They were focused on winning the basketball game."

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith wants his Wildcats, 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll and No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, to have that same look Saturday when they take on Indiana.


"There is a whole year left," Smith said. "I congratulate them on being No. 1, but that's about as far as it goes.

"I hope that we haven't played our best game yet. Up to this point, I haven't been particularly pleased with any game we have played so far. I know we can play better, and we have to play better starting Saturday against Indiana."

However, Smith does admit that his team's experience is an edge in most games and certainly could be against a young Indiana team that will start three sophomores and two freshmen Saturday because it lost its best inside player, George Leach, to a knee injury earlier this season.

Only one Indiana player, sophomore guard Bracey Wright (21.1 points per game), averages in double figures. The next best is sophomore guard Marshall Strickland (9.1).

All five Kentucky starters average in double figures, led by Gerald Fitch (20.4).

"There is no substitute for experience," Smith said. "Indiana is a very young team, and their kids are still learning. But when you have a player like a Bracey Wright, who can get his own shot and create off the dribble and also deliver the basketball to open people, it's only a matter of time before they gain that same type of confidence and play with the same type of confidence we're playing with."

Davis is not so sure that confidence will be coming any time soon.

"Sometimes teams pad their stats by playing mid-majors, but Kentucky is just good. All five of Kentucky's guys are real good players," Davis said. "We have some guys who have the potential to score some points, but they've never scored on this level before. Everything is new. It's not that way with Kentucky."

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