Date story was published: Sunday, December 9, 1990
On a night for revenge, point guard Sean Woods threw in a personal resurrection, too.
Woods, a study in inconsistency this young season, scored a career-high 25 points to lead Kentucky to a sweet 88-71 victory over Kansas last night.
UK coach Rick Pitino rejected the notion that Woods' effort represented a personal redemption.
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"He didn't need a redemption," Pitino said despite statistics showing Woods had as many turnovers (14) as assists (14) in UK's first three games. "We're a team, not individuals. A couple of games he went into thinking of scoring. Tonight he didn't."
Kansas coach Roy Williams also went into the game thinking Woods would not score.
"We made a decision to really do a great job on their three-point shooters and try to control and contain Woods," Williams said. "If you look at the percentages in the first three games, he was the one kid who hadn't shot well (35.3 percent). In most games, he didn't go to the basket. After the game, I grabbed him and told him we made a decision. He'd have to be the one to beat us. And, by golly, he did."
Woods, who had 19 total points in Kentucky's first three games, said he did not sense the Kansas strategy.
"I just thought he was tired," Woods said of Kansas point guard Adonis Jordan, "and I was beating him to the basket and no one was watching."
Kansas held UK to three three-pointers, a low for the Pitino era. Still, UK improved its record to 4-0.
"Sean gave us spectacular offense," Pitino said. "Against a big denial team, you've got to put it on the floor and create things. And Sean did."
As well as Woods played, he alone was not responsible for Kentucky's victory.
A stifling defense shut out Kansas for more than seven minutes when the outcome hung in the balance. In that time, Kentucky scored 19 straight points to establish its largest lead, 82-62.
Pitino credited Reggie Hanson with "the best defense I've seen from an individual."
That said, Pitino added, "The thing that won it was pressure on the ball, which is the best post defense."
Hanson and company held Kansas star forward Mark Randall to nine shots and 12 points.
"It takes a total team effort," Hanson said. "Plenty of times, I ran into a back screen and my man was open for two seconds. The guy playing the ball put enough good pressure I had time to get back."
Hanson blocked five shots.
This game's moment of truth came when UK called time with 10:39 left. A 14- point lead had dwindled to 63-62.
Over the next seven-plus minutes, UK scored 19 straight points. Freshman Jamal Mashburn and Woods accounted for the run's first 13 points.
Kansas missed 11 shots during UK's breakout. The Jayhawks also committed three turnovers.
"I'm sure he'd like to bottle up that speech," Williams said of Pitino's timeout oratory, "because they did come out and, it looked to me, they were a little more intense. Their defensive intensity picked up and we got careless. We ran about every offensive set we could to try to slow the tide. And we couldn't. Those seven minutes seemed like an eternity."
"Coach was calm," Woods said. "He'd said at halftime they'd make a run. We retaliated."
UK led 46-34 at halftime, not that Kansas was rattled by the Remember-the- Alamo atmosphere.
Kansas led 9-2 barely three minutes into the game. Randall's textbook post-up basket over Hanson began the game and the run. Forward Alonzo Jamison finished it with an emphatic fastbreak dunk off a behind-the-back pass from Jordan.
Thereafter, momentum turned Kentucky's way.
The game turned into the scattered-floor affair UK likes best. In the disarray of two Kansas fast-break misses under the basket, Deron Feldhaus gave UK its first lead. Feldhaus broke free in transition for a one-hand slam that put UK ahead 14-13 with 11:49 left.
As the half continued, UK's pressure bothered Kansas more and more. The Jayhawks had only two turnovers in the first nine minutes, and 12 for the rest of the half.
With three-point specialist Terry Brown misfiring badly (four of 14 for the game) and Randall playing cautiously (two early fouls), UK took charge.
Woods simply took over for much of the half's final 10 minutes, scoring 11 of his points in that period.
During one 90-second span, Woods scored seven straight points. He completed the run with a steal and driving layup that established Kentucky's largest lead, 35-21.
Though no comparison to the snowball that buried UK in Lawrence last December, the Cats could do little wrong as the half continued.
Twenty-five seconds after Woods' seven-point spurt, Pitino took his point guard out. Pitino inserted Jeff Brassow, who made a steal in the press on his first play.
Just before Woods left the game, Richie Farmer tried an improbable left- handed shot in the lane against three defenders.
The shot fell hopelessly off the rim, right into Mashburn's chest. The freshman laid in the gift and was fouled.
Kansas got back into the game early in the second half. The Jayhawks outscored UK 20-11 in the first six minutes.
Kansas hit three three-pointers during the run.
UK called two timeouts trying to stop the bleeding. Kansas crept within 57-54 when UK called time with 14:19 left.
Three straight UK turnovers, leading to six Kansas points in transition, prompted another timeout with 10:39 left.
UK clung to a 63-62 lead.
"At 63-62, I could not be any fonder of a team," Williams said. "Two things happened. One, we lost our poise. And I'm the kind of guy who gives credit to the other team."