UK Notebook: Wildcats get to play in a 'fun' game

December 23, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - The game was so one-sided even Kentucky coach Tubby Smith had no real complaints.

"I thought it was a fun game," said Smith after No. 8 Kentucky routed William & Mary 92-47 here Wednesday night. "Our guys played the right way, distributing the ball. I want to thank William & Mary for coming to play."

Smith admitted his team's "superior size" led to an overwhelming early rebounding advantage that put the game out of reach quickly. Eleven minutes into the game, Kentucky had a 27-9 lead thanks to a 16-4 rebounding advantage and 10 turnovers by the losers.

"We set the pace with our defense," Smith said.

William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said his team was overwhelmed physically.

"They play at a different level from what we are used to," Shaver said. "There were times we had inside position and still could not get the rebound. It was just a different level of strength and physical nature of the game than what we are used to."


Smith said Tuesday that he wanted to see improved passing from his team. The Cats responded with assists on 27 of their 37 field goals.

"We just wanted to put two halves together and play well in both of them. We also wanted to focus on passing," Kentucky junior Kelenna Azubuike, who had 17 points and two assists, said. "Everyone did well with assists, interior post passing and setting screens."

"The coaching staff really emphasized making good passes," Kentucky sophomore Bobby Perry said. "When we pass the ball more, we get good shots. We did a good job of that tonight."

Special shot: The most spectacular field goal in Wednesday's game came on a first-half fast break. Freshman Rajon Rondo flipped the ball back over his head as he was being fouled and banked the shot in off the backboard.

"That was unbelievable," Smith said. "He turned and threw it over his shoulder. He's just got great athleticism, coordination and ability to hang in the air. He and Kelenna and guys like that, they can go up in the air. It was a pretty acrobatic shot."

"Can you believe that shot?" Kentucky's Chuck Hayes said. "It was unreal. Everybody had to like that."

Smith likes the way Rondo, who had eight points, three assists, three rebounds and three steals, is playing.

"I think Rajon is playing great," Smith said. "He's starting to know when to push the ball. He's always been an intelligent player. He understands the game extremely well."

Heading home: Kentucky players were hoping the winter weather did not disrupt their plans to get home for Christmas.

"We are driving home a different way," Perry said of his expected drive home to North Carolina with his father.

"I just want to fly home (to New York). Please don't let this weather stop me," sophomore Shagari Alleyne said.

Hayes was planning to fly home to California to spend his first Christmas at home since he came to Kentucky.

"I'll find a way to get back. I might have to fly into a different airport, but I'll get there," he said.

Assistant coach Dave Hobbs was also planning to drive south to see family members. However, rather than going to Nashville, he was heading for Knoxville and then cutting over to avoid the snow in western Kentucky.

"One thing I know is that you don't mess with snow, even at Christmas," Hobbs said.

Numbers: Kentucky tied its season high for points 92. The Cats also scored 92 against Tennessee Tech. ... UK outscored William & Mary 54-8 in the paint and outrebounded the Tribe 45-28. ... William & Mary had 32 turnovers, the most by a Kentucky opponent since Jacksonville State had 33 on Nov. 21, 2000. The Cats scored 45 points off turnovers. ... Kentucky's bench scored 42 points. ... Chuck Hayes has had at least six rebounds, one assist and one steal in every game this season. ... Bobby Perry hit two 3-pointers to score a career-high six points for UK. ... Kelenna Azubuike tied his career best with five steals and had seven rebounds to become the first player other than Hayes to lead the team in rebounding this year. ... Rondo had three steals and has at least one steal in every game this year. ... Alleyne had five blocks to increase his total to 23 in 110 minutes this year.

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