Date story was published: December 18, 1983
After a Dr. Jekyll first half, Kentucky made Brigham Young want to run and hide.
In a year of turnarounds for the Wildcats, the basketball team pulled off a doozie last night. The Cats buried Brigham Young 93-59 in the finals of the 31st University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament . . . and did all the shoveling in the second half.
Last fall, the UK football team rebounded from a winless (0-10-1) 1982 to a 6-4-1 record and a berth in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Last night, the basketball team displayed an even more stunning turnaround, condensing its flop and flip to 40 game minutes.
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Afterward, UK Coach Joe Hall couldn't be blamed if he wanted to enshrine his team's second half in some Hall of Fame.
"I can't remember any other team that turned it around so completely," the 12th-year Wildcat coach said. "You can't play any better."
This came from a man who had given the same Cats a blistering halftime tongue-lashing. It's contents were unprintable. "You can't repeat it," Hall said with a faint smile.
Brigham Young actually led at intermission, riding the scoring of Devin Durrant, who was voted the UKIT's most valuable player, and freshman Mike Smith. Durrant and Smith combined for 30 of the Cougars' 36 first-half points. Durrant, who finished the game with 33 and the tournament with 56, had 22 in the first 20 minutes last night. Durrant's layup off a lob with three seconds left in the half was goaltended by Sam Bowie. That gave BYU a 36-34 lead.
That edge was short-lived. After trading baskets in the first two minutes of the second half, BYU switched from its man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone. UK riddled it for 10 straight points to take a 50-40 lead with 14:43 remaining. The method was familiar. Jim Master popped from outside. The UK frontline dominated inside.
The clinching blow was delivered during a five-minute stretch when the Cats outscored Brigham Young 23-0 and the Cat lead went from 58-48 to 81-48. Hall said he counted 21 straight possessions that Kentucky converted into points.
Two factors helped get UK off the launching pad. For the second straight night, UK abandoned its own man-to-man defense and went into a 1-3-1 zone. And, Dicky Beal leaped off the bench to jump-start the Cats.
"We won the first half; they just mowed us in the second," BYU Coach Ladell Andersen said. "We're embarrassed by it."
Andersen said he didn't believe UK's 1-3-1 was a factor, even if the smooth Durrant had riddled the Cats' man-to-man. Durrant, a 6foot-7 senior forward, scored only six points against UK's first-stringers when they were in the zone.
The BYU coach also dismissed the idea that two blocked shots by Bowie, which came with UK leading 42-40, ignited the crowd of 24,098 and threw his Cougars into a panic.
"It was all wrapped up in the way we didn't play and did play," Andersen said. "We didn't take care of the ball. We didn't play smart basketball in the second half.
"Our only chance was to play smart. When you're playing the No. 1 team, you've got to play smart. If we had played smart, well, nine out of 10 times we'd get beat. Maybe once, we could win."
The implication was last night could have been No. 10.
BYU shot only 38.7 percent in the first 20 minutes and was outrebounded 21-18, but the Cougars still led by two. Durrant was the big gun, hitting eight of his 11 shots in the half. Kenny Walker and Winston Bennett took turns guarding Durrant, but the BYU ace was virtually unstoppable. He poured in 10 points in the final 5:11 of the half. During that span, the Cougars outscored UK 15-4.
"Patience and execution, that's what we weren't doing," Hall said of the first half. "We had too many breakdowns on offense and defense. We talked about a lot of things (at halftime). We more or less weren't in the game mentally."
Beal, who didn't enter the second half until the 13:30 mark, had a more succinct remembrance of halftime.
"We got chewed out pretty good," Beal said, "and we deserved it."
The second half was a different story. The Cats shot 68.8 percent from the field (up from 46.2) and committed just four turnovers.
UK scored the first six points of the second half. BYU countered when center Brett Applegate rolled in a hook shot with 18:10 to play (the Cougars' first field goal not scored by Durrant or Smith) and sank two free throws at the 17:45 mark. The free throws tied the score at 40.
Over the next 11:25, UK outscored the Cougars 41-8.
Master, who had only nine points in the tournament, got the roll going by hitting a jumper over BYU's zone.
At the other end, Bowie blocked back-to-back shots by Applegate and Durrant and the momentum increased. Walker's rebound basket put UK up 44-40. Turpin's layup off a pass from Bowie made it 46-40.
Bowie tucked home a rebound to make it 48-40. And, when Applegate shuffled his feet and walked rather than go up against Bowie, UK appeared certain for victory.
Brigham Young got no closer than eight the rest of the way. UK led by as much as 35 (85-50 and 89-54).
"When you get down 10, 15, even you guys can shoot the ball in," Andersen told reporters afterward. "It's harder to fill it up when you're ahead only two."
For the record, no sportswriter made a point during UK's 23-0 run. Bennett, who was one of three Wildcats to score 15 points, had nine points during the breakaway. Beal added six (and finished the night with eight points and six assists in nine minutes). Turpin had two baskets, Master one, and Bowie made two free throws.
The highlight was a fastbreak dribbled by Beal and concluded by a thunderous dunk by Bennett.
Defensively, UK's 1-3-1 held Brigham Young scoreless for almost six minutes (5:52). At one point, the Cougars had only one basket -- a twisting, leaning one-hander by Durrant in traffic -- for seven minutes and 14 seconds.
"I think they were trying to adjust to the zone," Hall said. "They couldn't tell where they wanted him (Durrant) to be. Once he started flashing into the high post, he got his shots."
By then, it didn't matter. A 23rd UKIT championship was safely put away. * * *
Joining Durrant on the all-tournament team were: Turpin, who had 30 points in the two games; Bowie, with 28 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks); Calvin Duncan of Virginia Commonwealth, who scored 48 points; and Tony Martin of Wyoming with 24 points, 20 rebounds.