Date story was published: Wednesday, December 2, 1987
If Rex Chapman wasn't doing it early, Winston Bennett was late for Kentucky.
Rob Lock continued being a force inside, as did LeRon Ellis off the bench.
Ed Davender provided another replay of his steady defense and all-around offense. Roger McClendon, Cincinnati's and the Metro Conference's top scorer last season, was the victim. Davender limited McClendon to seven points, well below his 19.9 scoring average of last season. At the other end, Davender scored 17, joining four teammates in double figures, with a game-high six assists.
To sum up, the Wildcats seemed everywhere in drilling Cincinnati 101-77 last night at Rupp Arena.
The point total was UK's first over the 100-mark since a 107-91 rout of Jacksonville on Dec. 18, 1981.
The defense? The difference, said UK coach Eddie Sutton. "The defense finally took its toll," the UK coach said of the Cats' grind-it-out victory. "Ed (Davender) did something that never shows in the box score. He did a marvelous job on McClendon."
Surprise of surprises, the Wildcats even shot free throws well. UK made 35 of 41, 21 of 23 in the first half and 27 of 29 at one point. Against the Soviet Union and Hawaii, UK made just 40 of 63 free throws.
It was almost as if Cincinnati was outnumbered as well as outclassed by No. 2 Kentucky.
To hear Cincinnati center Cedric Glover, the Bearcats were outnumbered.
"True enough, it was eight against five," Glover said.
Glover meant five ever-present Cats, plus referees Don Rutledge, Mac Chauvin and Frank Ourso.
His reasoning included:
Three Bearcats saddled with three fouls each during the first half when Kentucky took control.
The Wildcats enjoying a 41-21 advantage in free throws attempted. Particularly helpful were the four technical free throws Davender shot in the second half. He made three. The first of two technical fouls called on Cincinnati coach Tony Yates helped stem a Cincinnati rally that had cut a 73-50 Kentucky lead to 82-68 with 5:30 left.
Yates was hit with a technical for straying from the coaching box after a call giving Cincinnati the ball out of bounds was reversed. A pass intended for Davender was deflected out of bounds. Rutledge first indicated Cincinnati's ball. After consulting with Chauvin, the ball was awarded to UK.
Yates came out of the coaching box to protest. Rutledge pointed to the floor, indicating the infraction and hit the Cincinnati coach with a technical foul.
Davender made one of the technical free throws, then hit a difficult layup while bouncing off Glover with the ensuing possession.
The three-point rally-snuffer padded the Kentucky lead to 85-68. The margin expanded to as much as 27 thereafter, much to the approval of a Rupp Arena crowd of 22,865.
Sutton declined to comment on the technical's impact, saying any answer would be "purely speculation."
Yates also downplayed the call, although he did say, "I felt good about my team, the way we came back and you hate to have anything break that kind of momentum."
Glover, who seemed more good-naturedly candid than upset, smiled and said: "Some of the calls were terrible calls. It seemed like the referees were watching me. I told one ref before the game to let us play. Things don't always work out."
Still, Glover conceded, UK did not need any help last night, real or imagined.
"They just outplayed us, period," Glover said. "We have a lot of young guys and 'Rump' Arena can get a guy a little nervous. It took us a while to get into it."
Chapman led the way with 22 points, all but four in a first half that saw UK take control. UK's sophomore hit two three-pointers in a half that saw him make seven of 11 shots. Six of the points came in a flurry in the game's first four minutes. In that span, UK took a lead it did not relinquish.
A three-point play by Lock, who had 10 first-half points, put UK ahead for good at 9-8 at the 17:20 mark. The lead grew to as much as 15 before the Cats settled for a 51-38 halftime cushion.
"Initially, both teams played excellent basketball and things were very, very even," Yates said. "We were playing hard, shooting well and Kentucky was doing the same. Then we had a letdown and they continued at that level. It was catch-up the rest of the night."
All but four of Bennett's 17 points came in the second half to stifle a comeback bid.
Another plus for UK was the poor shooting by Cincinnati's top scorer, McClendon. In what was a virtual replay of his struggles at Rupp two years ago, McClendon fired mostly blanks in the half. McClendon, an all-Metro Conference pick last season, made just one of nine shots in the half and had two points. He was three of 14 for the night.
In UK's 84-54 victory over Cincinnati here two years ago, McClendon made just three of nine shots and had six points.
"Davender's a great defensive player," McClendon said of his tormentor two years ago and again last night. "He's great at taking away the drive. I think he threw off my rhythm a little."
Yates agreed, saying a Davender steal off McClendon early set a disturbing tone for Cincinnati. The steal came with UK ahead 13-10.
"I think that hurt him," Yates said. "From a guy like Roger, you expect a certain performance. When you don't get it, it's a letdown."
With McClendon out of the picture, UK slowly expanded its lead.
The 51-38 halftime edge grew to 67-44. Bennett and Lock fueled the 16-6 UK run. Bennett, who didn't have a basket until the 2:50 mark of the first half, collected two three-point plays. The second was a left-handed runner in the lane.
Lock culminated the run with a one-hand slam rebound of a Davender miss on the fast break.
The shot produced a rousing ovation and a UC timeout with 15:55 left.
By then the Bearcats were in big trouble. Besides being far behind, their best freshman, Levertis Robinson, picked up his fourth foul with 16:28 left. Robinson had 23 points and 13 rebounds in Cincinnati's opening-night victory over Northern Kentucky. He had seven points and one rebound when he went to the bench with four fouls.
But Cincinnati did not quit, thanks largely to Glover. The UC center scored 15 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half. His scoring and UK's sloppiness allowed the Bearcats to whittle away at the lead.
"We lost our intensity level," Sutton said.
When McClendon briefly found his touch, an uneasy rumble went through the Rupp crowd. A shake-and-bake turnaround basket by McClendon cut the UK lead to 77-58 and seemed to inspire Cincinnati.
McClendon's three-pointer from the left corner reduced the lead to 77-63 and caused UK to call time with 7:39 left.
Another basket by Glover brought Cincinnati to within 82-68 with 5:30 left.
Thanks, in part, to a technical on Yates, the Bearcats got no closer.