Date story was published: Sunday, March 18, 1984
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- All too often in recent seasons, Kentucky has returned home defeated after a cameo appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Yesterday, the Wildcats were only too happy to pack for Lexington.
Displaying the kind of intensity that was missing in many of its recent NCAA games, UK buried Brigham Young 93-68 here before a two-thirds empty Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Coliseum and earned the right to play again in a roaring, jam-packed Rupp
UK, now 27-4, will play the winner of today's Louisville-Tulsa game Thursday night in Rupp Arena in the Mideast Regional semifinals.
To get there, the Cats had only to beat a Brigham Young team they handled (93-59) earlier this season. While the method was different -- UK didn't wait until the second half yesterday to rain its destruction on the Cougars -the result was the same: a lopsided score.
"I told you they weren't 35 points better than us . . . they were 25 points better," said Brigham Young's Brett Applegate, proving it's possible to retain a sense of humor after suffering a humiliating defeat. "They were just too much for us."
Forgotten in the wake of UK's most one-sided NCAA Tournament victory since 1959 (a 98-69 defeat of Marquette) were the disappointing finishes to more recent post-seasons. UK, of course, was bounced from the tournament last March by archrival Louisville. In the two previous competitions, Middle Tennessee -- who? -- and Alabama-Birmingham -- what? -- delivered the killing blows in Kentucky's first game.
"This is the type of game you'd like to open a tournament with," Wildcat Coach Joe Hall said yesterday.
Although UK didn't lead from start to finish, the Cats came within four minutes. And, even if the decisive period of the game couldn't match the 23point burial administered in December at Lexington, an 11-point breakout five minutes into the game was more than sufficient. That string, which pushed the Cats to a 15-4 lead, made for a repeat of an experience that's getting old for Brigham Young.
"With Kentucky as powerful as they are, you can't get down 10 points early," BYU Coach Ladell Andersen said. "That's what I was afraid of. If you do, you're in trouble from the get-go. You saw a struggling team after that."
Among the reasons BYU sailed into oblivion, its season over at 20-11, and UK cruised to victory were:
* Point guard Dicky Beal. The 5foot-11 senior played nine uneventful minutes against BYU in December. Yesterday, Beal tied Dirk Minniefield's school record of 14 assists in a single game in directing a Wildcat fast break that ran the Cougars out of the tournament.
* Kentucky's defensive work on BYU's Devin Durrant. Although Durrant finished with 28 ponts (his average, third nationally, is 27.9), the slender forward scored 16 of his points after UK had staked a 61-37 lead with 13 minutes remaining. Kenny Walker, Winston Bennett and Sam Bowie all had a shot at guarding Durrant in UK's man-to-man. The Cats played "man" throughout the first half and the first seven minutes of the second half. It was only against UK's 2-3 zone that Durrant began finding the basket.
That combination was double trouble for BYU.
"The first foul set the tone," Applegate said. "We get called for shoving while blocking out. We said: 'Hey, c'mon ref, don't let them hurt us. You not only have to play harder against Kentucky, you need a few breaks from the referees. We didn't get them."
The play in question was the fifth foul called in the game. Bowie appeared to go over BYU center Jim Usevitch's back for a rebound, but Usevitch was called for blocking out too strenuously.
That, however, was only the first of several calls that irked Andersen. Later, in the midst of UK's 11-point breakout, a period of two minutes when the Cats got every rebound and turned each into Beal-directed fastbreak baskets, Andersen thought Walker shuffled his feet before going in for a layup. That play was set up by a Wildcat steal that Andersen thought should have been a foul.
After calling a timeout at the 14:31 mark, Andersen voiced his opinion to the referee. When the BYU coach continued to berate the officials after time was back in, he was nailed with a technical foul.
UK's Jim Master made one of the two free throws and, after getting possession, Beal found Bowie on a lob for a dunk that gave the Cats a 15-4 lead.
UK wasn't without its own foul problems. Both Bowie and Melvin Turpin, whose 15 points allowed him to pass Cliff Hagan and Pat Riley on UK's all-time scoring list, picked up three first-half fouls. But that didn't seem to slow UK.
"Kentucky is Kentucky," Andersen said. "When they took out those guys, the only difference I saw was size. The new guys were good players, too."
The Cats widened their first-half lead to as many as 15 (42-27). Late in the half, Turpin picked up his third foul for getting into a shoving match with BYU guard Scott Sinek. Turpin had scored on a turnaround in the lane, falling over Sinek in the process. As the players picked themselves off the floor, each gave the other a shove.
After the two players were quickly separated, Hall and Andersen stood at centercourt for several minutes.
"We were arguing who shoved who first," Andersen said.
But, while he discussed the play, Andersen said he had another motive.
"Maybe if you use delay tactics on the sidelines, sometimes it has interesting effects in the game," he said. "It didn't today."
Leading by 13 (33-20) at the time, the Cats widened their lead to 26 (6135) in the first five minutes of the second half and coasted from there.
"We knew they would run," Beal said. "Brigham Young can't slow it down. That plays right into our hands."
Defensively, UK held the Cougars without a field goal until Durrant hit a jumper at the 14:08 mark. In the first 13 minutes of the first half, BYU had only four baskets as Kentucky took control.
Now, fresh off such a convincing victory, UK returns home.
"We like to think we can play better," Bowie said. * * *
Turpin is now in ninth place on UK's all-time scoring list with 1,476 points, one more than Hagan and 12 more than Riley.