Date story was published: Sunday, November 29, 1987
Most people go to Hawaii for an enjoyable time. UK's ambitious Wildcats brought Hawaii to Rupp Arena. A good time was had by all, except the Rainbows, as UK breezed to an 86-59 victory last night.
The 12 Cats who played and scored celebrated the opener in style, with an at-times raucous Rupp crowd of 23,049.
Even Riley Wallace, the first-year Hawaii coach, didn't seem overly troubled by a game that went as expected. And then some. "We knew we were going to be outmanned," Wallace said.
The Rainbows were. With five minutes left in the first half, UK coach Eddie Sutton almost looked bored, his chin already resting in his left hand. With 15 minutes still to play, Hawaii already had 21 turnovers. The visitors, both tired and tense by Wallace's reckoning, finished with 29 turnovers.
What the laugher will mean down the road is anyone's guess. But it sure was fun while it lasted.
"It won't be that easy against Cincinnati (Tuesday) and on down the schedule," Sutton said. "What you want is a high degree of intensity, regardless of the opponent. We did that tonight. We played about as well as we could. The biggest thing is we got to play a lot of the young players."
Installed as a 22-point favorite, UK expanded its lead to 44-23 in the first half. After intermission, the cushion ballooned to 37 three times.
That translated into a long night for the Rainbows, 0-2, and one standing ovation after another for some Wildcats not used to such treatment.
For example, oft-maligned center Rob Lock earned a benching with 16:51 left in the first half for two miscues: badly missing a low-post shot and fumbling the ball away in the lane on another possession.
However, Lock returned to score 14 first-half points. Lock finished with 18, one less than his career high (19 vs. Iona last December).
Lock was one of five Wildcats in double figures. Mike Scott, who exhibited a soft turnaround jumper from 15 feet, finished with a career-high six points. Scott, too, received an ovation.
When Lock left the floor with the other regulars at the 13:51 mark in the first half, the Cats were treated to a long, loud standing ovation.
At that point, UK led 19-6. The ever-expanding lead reached 21 points in the first half and reached 73-36 after intermission. "The starting club played super ball," Sutton said.
Hawaii was guilty of seven turnovers in its first 10 possessions; nine of its first 12 and 16 in the first half alone. Three of the turnovers were five- second violations.
"I tried to loosen them up, telling them we had nothing to lose," Wallace said. "Kentucky has some great fans, maybe the greatest in the world, but I wouldn't say they were the most intimidating."
However, point guard Craig Murray was nervous, Wallace said. "But we had no one to take him out for," the Hawaii coach said.
Winston Bennett got any questions about his recovery from knee surgery out of the way early. In the game's first four minutes, Bennett had one assist, one rebound, one basket and had taken a charge.
The rest was gravy for Bennett (who finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and a near-roster full of contributors. Only freshmen John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus and Johnathon Davis did not get in on the fun.
After the game, Sutton made it official. The three will be redshirted this season.
For those who played, the highlights, in chronological order, included:
Eric Manuel's all-around play. With 18:46 left in the first half, Manuel replaced Rex Chapman, who required one stitch to close a cut on his chin. Chapman returned to lead UK's scoring with 18 points.
Manuel spearheaded a pressing defense that disorganized Hawaii. In a two- minute span, the freshman from Macon, Ga., scored four baskets, two off his own steals, and forced a five-second violation. He, too, rated a standing ovation.
Another five-second violation indicated UK domination. With 11:05 left and UK ahead 26-11, a five-man substitution was called. Four of the players entered the game, but the fifth, Lock, had to wait when LeRon Ellis missed a free throw.
Within 15 seconds, Chapman had forced a five-second violation. At 10:50, Lock replaced Ellis.
Lock earned a second standing ovation after intermission. Playing the safety position in UK's press, he intercepted a long pass and nearly fell into press row.
The ovation grew as Lock then positioned himself for a low-post basket.
However, he missed the short turnaround, one of the few disappointments this night.
"I thought we played well," Sutton said, "although again we didn't shoot free throws (12 of 19 for 63.2 percent), and our field-goal percentage wasn't as high as we'd like (48.6 percent on 36-of-74 shooting).
"But," Sutton added, "our offense was run much better. We got the shots we'd want."
As for the other end of the floor, Sutton found little to criticize. Hawaii, which had to awaken at 6 a.m. yesterday to catch a flight from Nashville to Atlanta to Lexington, made just 41.3 percent of its shots. UK was particularly effective in the early going of each half. The Rainbows had only one field goal in the game's first seven minutes and one more in the second half's first nine minutes.
"The defense was outstanding," Sutton said.
Wildcat notes: Before they found out they would be redshirted, Feldhaus, Pelphrey and Davis indicated they would welcome the opportunity to sit out this season and return next season with four years of eligibility left.
"Look at the numbers," Feldhaus said last night. UK has 15 players on scholarship. "It makes sense to trade this year for a fifth year."
Pelphrey echoed that sentiment.
"How much would I get to play this season, five minutes (a game) ?" Pelphrey said. "Redshirting would be fine with me."