Date story was published: Sunday, December 30, 1990
LOUISVILLE -- The three-point shooting problem reappeared yesterday.
Only Louisville was the team scratching its collective head over the three-pointer.
Kentucky, which misfired on 69 of its last 92 three-point attempts entering the game, clanked its first three against the Cards.
Never miss a local story.
Thereafter, UK's three-point shooting machinery shifted into gear with devastating results. The Cats bombed from outside, then befuddled Louisville's defensive adjustments with drives to the basket.
The result: Louisville with an unsolvable three-point dilemma, and Kentucky with a sweet 93-85 victory.
"When they're doing that, you can't beat them," Louisville point guard James "Boo" Brewer said. "They're unstoppable."
UK's multiple defenses also thwarted Louisville, limiting a Cardinals team shooting 53 percent for the season to 44.6 percent accuracy. But, Coach Denny Crum said, the Cards also stopped themselves.
"Kentucky did a good job taking away the initial part of our offense," Crum said. "We didn't have the confidence or whatever it is to go to second and third options, which is what you have to do versus good teams. A good team takes certain things away. We didn't adjust to that well."
Never mind the misleading eight-point margin of victory. UK did not trail over the final 30 minutes, leading by as much as 22, and by as much as 18 with less than three minutes left.
Kentucky fans embrace any victory over hated Louisville, winner of the last two meetings in this electric series.
But, said UK coach Rick Pitino, "I'm more excited about the way we played. We were fundamentally sound in all phases. We've been waiting to put this type of game together. It's a very special win going into SEC play."
The Cats, 8-2, open Southeastern Conference play at Georgia Wednesday.
Richie Farmer, who seems to save his best games for Freedom Hall, and Jeff Brassow kicked in UK's three-point weaponry.
Farmer, who had a career-high 22 in this building eight days ago against Western Kentucky, hit four of five three-pointers and scored all his 14 points in the first half.
Farmer hit three three-pointers in the final 2:19 to propel the Cats to a 39-28 halftime lead.
No, Farmer said, he didn't worry when UK misfired on its first three three-pointers (two by John Pelphrey and one by Brassow).
"I was on the bench," Farmer said, smiling. "I didn't think about it."
Brassow made three of seven three-point attempts before halftime. In all, UK hit nine of 19 shots from behind the three-point line in the first 20 minutes.
Reggie Hanson made UK's first three-pointer with 15:09 left. John Pelphrey declined a three-point attempt and passed to Hanson.
Hanson's trey triggered an onslaught. UK made 13 of its final 23 three- point attempts, including a banker by Deron Feldhaus ("Oh yeah, I did intentionally use the glass," he said, sarcastically) and walk-on Junior Braddy's first of the season.
UK was5-for-30 and nine-for-36 on three-pointers in its last two games. "One of the things we were hoping for was their lack of three-point shooting would continue," Crum said. "Obviously, it didn't. If they don't make them, it's a close game. With the three-pointer, you can win with it, but you also can get beat by it. To their credit, they made the shots."
Louisville adjusted its defense in the second half, paying closer attention to UK players on the perimeter. So, point guard Sean Woods penetrated past one-on-one coverage for a team-high 20 points, all scored after halftime.
"I let the game come to me," Woods said. "My job is to penetrate, draw the defense and kick it out. They stayed with their men, so I was able to go to the basket."
Woods scored eight straight points to give UK its first 20-point lead, 59-39, with 13:22 left.
All was set up, Woods agreed, by the three-point shooting. Even Pelphrey warmed to the task. Pelphrey, a 1-for-11 three-point shooter Thursday against Eastern and 3-for-his-last-19, missed his four first-half attempts. Two were air balls.
Pelphrey finally hit a trey with 10:07 left to establish another 20-point UK lead: 68-48.
Louisville did not repeat the wilting of the famous "Big Brother-Little Brother" game of 1986. UK rode 11 three-pointers that day to an 85-51 victory, the most lopsided loss in Crum's coaching career.
Yesterday, Louisville kept after UK. The Cards had five dunks and could have had two more had LaBradford Smith not missed a breakaway reverse slam and had sophomore Mike Case not walked gearing up for a slam.
But UK's lead was never in jeopardy. The Cats led by at least 12 in the second half until the final 40 seconds.
"I don't think this team can play any better," Pitino said. "We took good shots. We moved the ball. We played very hard defense. We didn't turn it over till the end."