Date story published: Friday, November 21, 1997
History hadn't been this one-sided since Saddam Hussein got his "Mother of all Battles" in the Gulf War.
On the occasion that marked two historical coaching debuts, Kentucky did not play against Morehead State as much as it played with the hopelessly outmanned Eagles.
Kentucky not only won Tubby Smith's first game as coach, the Cats practically named the final score (88-49).
"Nice win," Smith said of the most lopsided opening victory for a UK coach since Adolph Rupp beat Georgetown College by 48 points in 1930. Then Smith added facetiously, "I was hoping we'd win."
Turning serious, Smith said a lopsided victory - that featured a school-record 17 blocked shots - left him with mixed emotions.
"You want to play as well as you can; you want your players to challenge themselves," he said. "But you also (want to show Morehead the) respect they deserve and how hard they played."
For UK-icon-turned-Morehead-State-coach Kyle Macy, his debut lived down to expectations.
"It's not very good when you're down 19 to zero at the start," Macy said of his first game. "I never had any qualms about being on the sideline. I was fine. Everybody was asking was I nervous. The game wasn't about me as a coach. It was about our players."
Any chance for a competitive game died inside the first five minutes. Kentucky scored the game's first 19 points. By the time Morehead scored - Hezzie Boone's three free throws with 15:25 left - UK had blocked as many shots (two) as the Eagles had gotten to the rim (two).
Morehead, which started four freshmen, did not get more shots to the rim than UK blocked until freshman Dewayne Krom made a layup with 11:02 left in the first half. His basket made it seven Morehead shots to the rim and six blocked. By halftime, when UK led 48-20, the Cats had more blocks (eight) than Morehead had baskets (six).
Smith downplayed the blocked-shot record. "There's a reason for the blocks," the UK coach said. "They beat us off the dribble outside, and then you get a matchup (inside that favors UK)."
It took 13 seconds for Kentucky to show its dominance. The Cats' first possession ended with a scripted play that had Scott Padgett tossing a lob pass to a leaping Allen Edwards, who stuffed a dunk through the hoop.
"Coach said if they go to a 2-3 zone on an inbounds play, which they tend to do, we'd lob," Padgett said. "With our size, we figured they'd help on Jamaal (Magloire) and leave Allen free."
In a scene to be repeated more times than your favorite Seinfeld episode, UK converted Morehead misjudgments into baskets. Magloire, who started at center, got it started by blocking a three-point shot, then retrieving the ball and driving to a layup. The Cats outscored Morehead 24-8 on points off turnovers in the first half.
"At one time, I wanted to go to Coach and say, 'We need to take the press off,' " Padgett said. The Cats did pull off the press in the second half.
Kentucky sprinkled highlight film material into its start-to-finish domination. Those plays included:
* Edwards' baseline drive to a floating reverse layup. The basket capped the 19-0 run.
* Edwards' driving slam in transition while being fouled. The three-point play made it 22-3. "I don't think he was trying to be a superstar," Smith said of Edwards, who led the Cats with 15 points. "But he was trying to get us started. That showed a lot of leadership."
* Freshman Myron Anthony's double-clutching reverse layup. That set the halftime score.
* Transfer Heshimu Evans' reverse layup in which he posted on the right side, then turned and floated under the basket to bank in a shot from the left side. That made it 69-27 with 10:27 left.
Being the season's first game, Kentucky could not expect a seamless performance. And the Cats did not deliver one.
As the first half wound down, Edwards threw a lackadaisical lob pass too high for Jeff Sheppard to reach. Visibly irked, Smith got out of his seat and walked down the bench.
Early in the second half, Evans threw an outlet pass too far in front of Edwards. This time Smith kicked his feet forward and stomped his right foot on the floor.
With UK leading 73-32, Morehead's Jeremy Webb got caught in the air in front of two defenders. He got fouled on a low-percentage leaner. That prompted assistant coach Mike Sutton to point at the shot clock. It had only two seconds left.
"I'm always concerned about turnovers," Smith said. "Seventeen is just too many. I'll have to look at the film to see why we were slipping down, kicking it out of bounds. I don't know. Pretty sloppy in that area."