Date story published: Wednesday, December 20, 1995
LOUISVILLE -- Pitino Ball vs. Pitino Ball produced a bonanza of points and turnovers last night. Kentucky had more of the points, Marshall more of the turnovers.
The result: a near-record UK victory. In beating Marshall 118-99, UK approached the school record for points against a non-conference opponent (126 against South Carolina in 1989).
The points and turnovers littered a disjointed game decided in its first 10 minutes. In that span, Kentucky blew away Marshall 45-12 with what UK Coach Rick Pitino called "a devastating run of great defense and great offense."
The Cats, now 6-1 heading into Saturday's annual showdown with Louisville, scored on 18 of their first 19 possessions.
"The game was over at that point," Pitino said. "That 10-minute span was magnificent. . . . The rest of the game, we just maintained serve."
Marshall outscored Kentucky 87-73 in the game's final 30 minutes. Ten three-pointers, a high for a UK opponent this season, made the undersized Herd more pesky than dangerous.
Mark Pope led six UK players in double-figures with 21 points. Not-so- coincidently, UK used its superior size to score nine put-back baskets.
"This was a game Kentucky overpowered us from the interior," said Marshall Coach Billy Donovan, a protege of Pitino and a devotee of the three-point shooting, full-court pressing style of play. Marshall fell to 4-3.
But Pitino wasn't satisfied with the front-line dominance that recorded seven blocks and a 45-34 rebounding edge.
"Pope, Walter (McCarty) and Antoine (Walker) are getting enough minutes to get 12 or 13 rebounds (each)," he said. "There were rebounds we weren't coming up with."
Marshall committed 32 turnovers, a high this season for a Kentucky opponent and six more than Morehead State had in a hapless evening in Rupp Arena Saturday.
But Pitino Ball's up-tempo style dictates some miscues. The two teams combined for 56 turnovers.
Most of Kentucky's 24 turnovers came after the big start. The Cats' first turnover came more than eight minutes into the game. "We've improved our defense," Pitino said. "We've improved our rebounding. Our biggest weakness is turnovers."
The Cats seek to average about 15 turnovers, he said.
Kentucky threatened, but did not break, the school record for most points in a half. After a near-flawless first 10 minutes, Kentucky seemed poised to shatter the record for points in a half (75 against Georgia in the 1956 game that set the school mark for points in a game: 143).
The Cats rang up 45 points with 9:48 left in the first half. So hot was UK that Tony Delk and Derek Anderson threw in heavily contested reverse layups that required the body control of a contortionist.
Marshall found itself in a curious position. The Herd made five of its first seven shots but still trailed 21-10.
Kentucky's lead reached its zenith at 45-12 when freshman Ron Mercer stole a pass and dribbled to a dunk. Asked to describe the run, UK point guard Anthony Epps said, "Look at the scoreboard. 45-12. That speaks for itself."
Inevitably, it seemed, UK cooled off a little. After building the33-point margin, the Cats came up empty on nine of their next 10 possessions. The dry spelled followed a curious 20-second timeout by UK.
Marshall put together a 15-0 run, and still trailed by 18.
"Finally, we got slapped around enough, we decided to play," said Marshall assistant coach John Pelphrey, one of UK's former "Unforgettables." "Too bad it took us 10 minutes."
Center John Brown led Marshall's rally. Brown, a sophomore and former high school teammate of UK sophomore Allen Edwards, scored six of his 16 first-half points during the run.
Marshall closed within 45-27 before Kentucky steadied itself.
The Herd got as close as 17 points (66-49) in the final minute. UK led 70-49 at the half.
Marshall did not seriously threaten Kentucky in the second half.
What small chance the Herd had to scare UK vanished when Brown picked up his fourth foul and departed with 14:12 left.
With the help of a technical foul on the Marshall bench, Kentucky widened it lead to 99-64 with 10:32 left. The technical came after Brown appeared to get roughed up twice in a 15-second span.
The technical erased a transition play that netted a McCarty dunk. But after Walker missed both technical free throws, he hit a three-pointer to give UK a 35-point margin.
UK called a 20-second timeout with 8:50 left after Jason Williams hit a pair of three-pointers. They reduced the Cats' lead to 27 points.