Vaught's Views: Tubby ticked at Cats' effort

December 30, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - It was a memorable win for Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, but not a game to remember.

Smith joined former UK coaches Adolph Rupp, Joe Hall and Rick Pitino with 200 victories at Kentucky thanks to Wednesday's 82-50 victory over visiting Campbell.

While he acknowledged he was "grateful for the people at Kentucky" and happy to get the win, there's no way the coach could be happy about the lackadaisical way his team played the second half.

Campbell, a team that managed just 11 points in the first half, outscored No. 8 Kentucky 39-37 in the second half. It was the first time this season the Wildcats had been outscored in the second half. North Carolina couldn't do it. Louisville couldn't do it. Indiana couldn't do it. But Campbell, one of the nation's worst Division I teams, did it at Rupp Arena.


"They didn't stop. They didn't give up," said Smith. "I think our players thought the game ended at halftime."

They knew better shortly after the game ended. Smith watched Campbell go on a 20-3 scoring run in just over six minutes that left him perplexed about why his team thought it could just coast through the second half, especially since UK held Campbell to the fewest points of any UK opponent in the first half of a game in 21 years.

The signs were obvious. Smith had lamented Tuesday that his young team was not serious enough about basketball and didn't know how to totally prepare for a game.

No one doubted that after watching the Wildcats got 14-for-32 from the field, 2-for-10 from 3-point range and 7-for-16 from the foul line in the second half.

The Cats were sloppy with their ballhandling and even worse on the defensive end where Campbell, a team that scored just 40 points at Tennessee, gained confidence with each possession. The same team that had trouble getting an open shot the first half suddenly found a lot of open shots against UK's defense.

"The lack of concentration and focus showed up," Smith said. "You talk about it, try to preach to them at halftime about respecting your opponents. That's what is disappointing. You have to respect the game and play the game the right way. It's a sign of a team that hasn't grown up all the way yet."

That immaturity irks Smith. He's tried to be patient with his young team but there was no way he could feel happy about his team's uninspired play in the second half even if he did still win his 200th game at Kentucky.

He didn't put all the blame on his young players, either. He let seniors Chuck Hayes and Josh Carrier know he wasn't happy with them, too.

"Our leadership needs to step up," Smith said. "Chuck and Josh, those guys who have been through the wars, have to step up and understand. You shut up and you get ready for the game. It's as simple as that. We need that."

Smith's players learned after the game that they would be practicing early today as the Cats now turn their attention to the start of Southeastern Conference play next week.

"Practice probably won't be much fun this week. We are going to have to face the consequences for the way we play," junior guard Ravi Moss said. "Practice will be hard, but we deserve it for the way we played."

Smith said there were no tell-tale signs at halftime that his team was through playing. Instead, he said a "false sense of accomplishment" may have lulled his team to sleep. He even partially blamed himself for getting the team back to the floor later than usual before the start of the second half.

But as long as the Cats went back to the court, they should have dominated the second half the same way they did the first half. Instead, the Cats just went through the motions. They were ready for showtime, but Campbell refused to click the go button on the UK highlight reel.

"We just had a big letdown," Kentucky reserve guard Brandon Stockton said. "We thought they were going to just roll over. Hopefully we relearned a big lesson tonight. You can't take anything for granted."

Since the Wildcats did take the second half for granted, it ruined Smith's memory of his milestone win

"It's all about preparation. It's all about your passion for the game and love of the game every time you go out for practice," Smith said. "That's what I enjoy. Games are the by-product of all of the things you do in practice. When they don't materialize, it's frustrating, whether it's your 200th win or your first win."

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