Date story was published: Thursday, December 28, 1989
LOUISVILLE -- When Kentucky was good last night, it was very good. An NCAA record 21 three-pointers helped UK pile on the most points ever scored against a North Carolina team.
But when the Cats were bad, they were very bad.
North Carolina ripped an ineffective press repeatedly and rolled up a 28- point lead in the game's first 12 minutes.
Only three-pointers kept UK relatively close as Carolina prevailed 121-110.
Carolina, 7-4, closed to within four victories of Kentucky's all-time record. UK stayed at 1,469. Carolina improved to 1,465.
UK, which broke the NCAA record of 19 three-pointers it gained a share of last week against Furman, fell to 5-4.
With all its points (the previous record against Carolina was 107 points, by Indiana and Wake Forest in 1964-65), UK couldn't stop the Heels at the other end. Point guard King Rice led the assault. Rice ran through UK's presses and, once free, scored a career-high 22 points and had 13 assists.
"King Rice was tremendous," Carolina coach Dean Smith said. "He broke the press time after time after time. They got the tempo they wished. We like to play that way, too. It reminded me of the Loyola-Marymount game, except we would take no shot other than a layup or three-pointer against them.
"Rick (UK coach Rick Pitino) was wise enough to go to a zone."
Pitino pointed to the failure to contain Rice, especially in the first half, for UK's defeat.
"We wanted to keep the ball out of King Rice's hands," Pitino said. "If we could, we felt we could turn them over. If we couldn't, he'd hurt us."
The first half had two distinct segments. Carolina dominated the first, moving ahead by 28 points on three occasions.
UK rallied in the second. Riding seven three-pointers in a five-minute span, the Cats outscored Carolina 24-5 to slice the huge deficit to nine.
But the Cats didn't score in the final 2:28, allowing Carolina to pull away to a 64-47 halftime lead.
"We had to fight uphill too long, too hard," Pitino said. "It's unfortunate we got so far behind in the first half because we played a real good second half."
Carolina's size and precision befuddled UK early.
The game's first play typified Kentucky's handicap. The Tar Heels' 6-foot- 11 center, Scott Williams, simply scretched over a Lilliputian group of UK players for a loose ball. Williams lifted the ball into the basket while ignoring Deron Feldhaus slapping at one arm.
The three-point play gave Carolina the lead for good.
That lead grew ever larger over the half's first 13 minutes, cresting at 46-18, 48-20 and 51-23.
As expected, UK pressed continually. But Carolina, supposedly suspect against pressure, thrived. The Tar Heels did not commit a turnover in the backcourt until the 9:30 mark.
Free from turnovers, the Heels attacked the back line of UK's press. Layup after layup ensued. Carolina's first six baskets were shot from the lane. The Heels made 13 of their first 16 shots.
Mix in an occasional three-pointer -- shooting guard Rick Fox had three early and 20 points for the game -- and a rout seemed unstoppable.
Rebounding provided little hope for a comeback. The Cats did not grab an offensive rebound until the 11:31 mark when freshman Jeff Brassow stole one.
Carolina outrebounded UK 45-31.
"We can't use lack of size or height or athleticism as an excuse," Pitino said. "We've got to get to the backboards to win. We're doing the other things very, very well."
A cold shooting spell also hurt UK. From the 14:07 mark to 8:20, UK had two baskets. During that span, Carolina increased a 23-14 lead to 46-18.
Early in the breakout, Pitino picked up his fourth technical foul of the young season. It appeared he thought a stumbling Fox walked on the fast break. Adding to the non-call was the insult of Fox eventually picking up a loose ball and flipping in a trey. Pitino argued after the shot and was hit with a techinical.
It was the start of UK's game-long battle with the referees.
The Cats did not shoot a free throw until the 18:53 mark of the second half.
Carolina, which worked much more inside and did not press, made 13 of 20 first-half free throws.
"Obviously, there were a few calls that could have gone either way," Pitino said. "The refs were not a factor. North Carolina made us fall behind so far."
Derrick Miller, who led UK with 26 points and eight of 16 three-pointers, wasn't so sure.
"We only shot 11 free throws," Miller said. "They shot 31. What do you think?"
Actually, UK made 11 of 13, all in the second half. Carolina was 31-of-42.
Smith said the Tar Heels set a goal each game to prevent the opponent from getting into the bonus during the first half.
Just as it appeared Carolina might inflict a Kansas-sized (150-95) beating, Kentucky rallied.
Three-pointers -- what else? -- fueled the charge. Trailing 48-20, UK sank seven of eight three-point attempts. This followed a two-for-nine skein to open the game.
Richie Farmer rebounded from a sub-par UKIT with a career-high 21 points. Farmer hit three of the treys. Miller had two, the second of which caused the crowd to roar even though it cut the deficit to 51-31.
When Deron Feldhaus hit a three-pointer at the 2:28 mark, UK closed to within 56-47.
Kentucky got no closer until the game's final six seconds.
The Cats missed their final three shots of the half. Carolina ripped off eight straight points to lead 64-47 at halftime.
The Cats got off to a promising start in the second half.
Miller and Feldhaus sandwiched three-pointers around a Carolina turnover. The deficit was down to 64-53.
A rare four-point play helped keep UK at bay. Reserve guard Hubert Davis hit a three-pointer a split second before being fouled by Farmer. He made the free throw, making Carolina's lead 80-62.
Kentucky began its final charge with Carolina ahead 94-69 at the 10:27 mark.
Again, three-pointers were the key. UK hit eight the rest of the way. Three -- by Miller, Feldhaus and Farmer -- came within 66 seconds and cut a 25-point lead to 106-90.
UK kept battling. Miller's leaning three-point on the fast break, UK's 20th of the game, cut the lead to 116-103 with 1:01 left.
Miller hit Kentucky's 21st with 14 seconds left.