Hawkins ready for Cardinals

December 24, 2003|JILL ERWIN

LEXINGTON - Kentucky senior point guard Cliff Hawkins prefers to let his play do the talking for him.

Hawkins still remembers last year's game against Louisville, and has no intention of reliving it Saturday. But he wasn't about to make any outlandish guarantees or promises heading into Saturday's matchup here with the Cardinals.

"I'm looking forward to it," Hawkins said. "I'm excited to play them. I don't want to talk too much about it, I just want to go out and play. I'm not one to do a whole bunch of talking."

Hawkins' play Tuesday in a 101-72 win over Eastern Kentucky spoke volumes. He played almost 24 minutes, second-most for Kentucky to Erik Daniels, and scored 16 points while not missing a shot.


"It's getting there," Hawkins said about his shot. "It's not where I want it to be. It was good tonight."

He hit all seven field goals and both 3-pointers he attempted, and also had six assists to just one turnover. Hawkins had two steals and two rebounds as well.

While he may not feel like bragging on himself, Hawkins wants a better showing against the Cardinals than he had last year.

It was only his second game of the season after missing the first semester because of academic issues, and Hawkins had just two points in the game.

The points came on two free throws as Hawkins missed his only field-goal attempt.

He still had a team-high five assists, and said that's one of the aspects of his game he's most proud of.

"I like making nice passes, especially when I can thread the needle a little bit," Hawkins said.

"Coach (Tubby Smith) doesn't like it, but if it gets through and he makes the lay-up, he can't really say too much. I enjoy it."

Hawkins leads UK with 47 assists, more than twice as many as Daniels.

But Hawkins said he takes the most pride in his defense, and he knows the Cardinals will play much the same style as Kentucky.

"I'm a tough-nosed defender," Hawkins said. "I take pride in guarding my man. They're going to play the same way we play - they're going to pressure you and be up in your face."

Kentucky did well in an uptempo game against Eastern, and Hawkins said he expects to see more of the same from Louisville.

"The game's going to be a lot of up and down," Hawkins said.

"We know it's going to be a transition game, and whoever scores in transition and takes care of the ball will win the game. I'm fine with that. We're looking forward to it. We're going to prepare ourselves the rest of the week and get ready for the game."

That's not a problem for Hawkins, who said adding the Eastern game this year to break up the week between Indiana and Louisville was fine with him.

"If we have a game, I come to play," Hawkins said.

That's something Kentucky's been doing this year. With a perfect record, the Wildcats look to finish out 2003 on an uptick against their in-state rival.

"We're happy with where we are now," Hawkins said. "We're getting better. We still have a tough road ahead of us, but we're up for the challenge.

"We all know (what happened last year). We're not going to talk too much about it, harp on it. We're just going to come with our shoes laced on Saturday and play ball."

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