Date story published: Saturday, November 27, 2004
We knew about tryptophans, that chemical in turkey that reduces Thanksgiving eaters to drowsy couch potatoes.
Kentucky's 77-59 victory over Georgia State last night suggested those gobblers contain "trey-tophans," which apparently take the life out of a team's three-point attack.
A day after Thanksgiving dinner at Coach Tubby Smith's house, the Cats barely made a three-point shot and hit only a handful of shots from outside the lane. Yet Kentucky dominated other areas to win comfortably.
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Kentucky, 3-0, made only two of 15 three-point attempts, its fewest treys since getting only one against Indiana last Dec. 20. The Cats made only five shots from outside the lane.
Most eye-catching, UK's best perimeter shooters, Kelenna Azubuike and Patrick Sparks, were a combined 0-for-11 from beyond the arc.
"We had the right people shooting threes," Smith noted. "They just didn't go in."
Smith wasn't too queasy because UK dominated inside. Nevada beat Georgia State last week by decisively winning around the basket: a 42-27 rebounding advantage and scoring 26 of its 33 baskets from inside the lane.
Kentucky all but duplicated that dominance, winning the boards 44-31 and scoring repeatedly around the basket. The latter was a reason for Kentucky's 24-4 margin in free-throw attempts.
"Their front line was a little overwhelming for us," Georgia State Coach Michael Perry said.
Chuck Hayes led the battering, scoring a season-high 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
"I don't know what happened to me," Hayes said. "The ball kept coming to me and the shots kept falling for me."
Hayes opened the game with a spin move around Sylvester Morgan, Georgia State's 6-foot-9 senior center. But Hayes credited the next possession for igniting his outburst. He took a lob from Rajon Rondo and dunked.
"I was surprised I caught the alley-oop," Hayes said. "I didn't think he saw me. I was flat-footed. Instinct took over."
Planning, not happenstance, guided Kentucky. The UK braintrust knew Nevada whipped Georgia State inside. But even if that hadn't happened, the Cats said they would have pounded from the lane.
"Since the last game, coach made an emphasis on getting the ball inside," Hayes said. "Play inside-out. That's what we did."
In his most productive performance, freshman center Randolph Morris had season highs with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Added Shagari Alleyne, who blocked two shots and altered at least twice that many: "That's our philosophy. Coach tells us all the time: play inside-out. We've got three 7-footers and Chuck Hayes. When you're got those people, it's almost impossible not to throw it to the post."
Against Georgia State, Kentucky all but had no other option.
Azubuike, still battling a shooting slump from the perimeter, missed his five three-point attempts. That dipped him to to 1-for-11 from beyond the arc this season.
"Me and Pat, we've decided we're going to work on that," Azubuike said of the perimeter misses. "We're going to fix it."
Asked how, he said, "Just get shots up. Just shoot and shoot."
Sparks, coming off 4-for-6 three-point shooting and 20 points against Ball State on Tuesday, missed his six shots from beyond the arc.
"I just had a bad night shooting," he said. "That's all you can say. I'm not blaming anything. I had good looks, some of the best looks all year."
Kentucky controlled the first half despite making only one of nine three-point shots. In fact, UK made only two shots that weren't a layup, rebound put-back or dunk. Freshman Ramel Bradley made the Cats' only trey with 11:32 left. Another freshman guard, Rondo, hit a running floater from the left side of the lane.
Otherwise, Kentucky could not make a first-half shot outside the lane.
Yet UK trailed for only 33 seconds. The Cats led by a double-digit margin the final 5:57 and expanded the margin to as much as 17 points before going into halftime ahead 38-23.
Rebounding, defense, a huge free-throw disparity and nearly flawless ballhandling kept the Cats firmly in control. In the opening 20 minutes, UK committed only one turnover -- Rondo threw a fastbreak pass slightly too far ahead of Sparks.
UK's defense forced two 35-second shot clock violations and a five-second held-ball call.
Yet Smith conceded the perimeter misses took the luster off an otherwise solid performance.
"When you're not making shots consistently, especially from three, you don't look as good," the UK coach said. "If we made half, or five of six of them, I'm feeling a lot better."