Date story was published: December 30, 1983
LOUISVILLE -- Kentucky celebrated a birth and a death here last night. After an 86-67 thumping of Purdue, it was hard to tell which caused the Wildcats more merriment.
Melvin Turpin, whose 23rd birthday coincided with the game, scored 22 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and was voted the most valuable player.
His output, coming on the heels of a second-half benching at Illinois last Saturday, was helped immeasurably by the outside shooting of Sam Bowie and Kenny Walker. The two forwards not only hit 11 of 20 shots, they punched a big hole in the theory this season that has said: To stop Kentucky, you must stop Turpin.
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Last night, Purdue tried the conventional method -- sagging its defense around the 6-foot-11 center and invited the forwards to shoot -- and paid a heavy price as Bowie and Walker combined for 28 points.
"Kentucky proved you're going to have to stop sagging," said Purdue Coach Gene Keady. "We tested Bowie and Walker and they passed with flying colors. Kentucky took a step forward toward jelling into a great ballclub."
The Wildcats, now 8-0, did that jelling in a first-half blitz that gave UK a 53-27 halftime lead and brought back memories of UK's second-half blow out of Brigham Young earlier this month. While the Cats didn't match the 23-0 run of that game, they came close. UK reeled off 15 straight points last night, breaking open what had been a close game and sending Purdue toward its third straight defeat.
Interestingly, UK's run was kicked off when Coach Joe Hall was hit with a technical foul by Bob Showalter, the only Big Ten official in the three-man crew. Hall, who had been peppering the officials with criticisms throughout the first half, had only got one sentence out of his month -- he thought Turpin was slapped across the arm when the center fumbled the ball -- when Showalter called the technical.
Purdue's Steve Reid hit one of the technical free throws, bringing the Boilermakers within three points (1411) at the 12:58 mark. The rest of the half was all Kentucky.
"That was the turning point of the game," Keady said when asked about the technical on Hall.
In cold numbers, UK outscored Purdue 26-5 over the next five minutes. The final 15 points of that run came without Purdue scoring.
While UK was rolling up the points, Purdue went five minutes and 38 seconds without scoring, falling from a 2516 deficit into a 40-16 black hole.
During a span of seven minutes and three seconds, Purdue put only three free throws on the scoreboard, while UK was running up a 27-point lead, the Cats' largest margin of the game (46-19 and 48-21).
"Our first half was much like our game with Brigham Young," Hall said. ''It was just an outstanding effort."
Effort had been one of the elements missing from Turpin's game. At least, that was the big man's explanation for his MVP play last night.
"Coach Hall had a long talk with me about what I was doing wrong," Turpin said. "There were a lot of things he brought to my attention."
Asked what had hindered his game, Turpin said: "Resting."
Turpin sat out the final 12 minutes of an Illinois game that went down to the wire.
"It hurt a little," Turpin said of the benching. "But, I wasn't doing anything."
Last night, Turpin hit nine of 17 shots from the field at the offensive end and blocked six shots at the other end.
He said his game was "helped" by Bowie and Walker's ability to hit from outside and ease the Purdue sag.
"When they're hitting those shots, we'll be blowing teams out," Turpin said. "I guess we're blowing teams out now, but not the right way. Once teams start respecting Sam and Walker, we'll be tough to guard."
Walker opened the game by hitting two jumpers from the foul line. The shots gave UK a lead it never relinquished. Walker finished with a season-high 18 points, hitting six of 13 shots from the field.
Bowie got into the act moments later. Shortly after Turpin hit a turnaround jumper from the low post, breaking the game's only tie and giving UK an 8-6 lead, Bowie hit a shot from the foul line. Although the 7-1 forward sat out the final 13:57 of the half because he had picked up two fouls, Bowie's outside shooting kept a regrouped Purdue at bay in the second half.
Bowie hit another 15-footer at the 8:53 mark of the second half. A threepoint play by Jim Rowinski, who led Purdue with 18 points, had brought the Boilermakers within 17 points (66-49). Bowie's shot from the foul line made sure Purdue got no closer.
"I was reading in the paper that Purdue was going to sag on Melvin," Bowie said. "I've been doing a lot of practicing with that shot. Sam Bowie can shoot that shot. The trouble is I've only been getting two or three opportunities to shoot it in a game. When I miss, people say I can't shoot it. Give me 20 shots like that and I'll put points on the board."
Bowie got only seven shots last night. He made five and added 10 points to the cause.
Another 10-point scorer was freshman Winston Bennett. Bennett, who said he wasn't nervous about a return trip to his hometown, scored eight of his points during UK's 15-0 run. His board work -- he got five rebounds -helped UK gain a 39-31 edge on the boards.
Purdue, now 7-3, was hurt by poor shooting. The Boilermakers entered the game hitting 49 percent of their shots. Purdue made only 25.9 percent of its first-half shots (seven of 27). That shooting made incidental a better second half (48.5 percent).
"We got the ball inside," Keady said of the second half. "We made seven passes instead of shooting it up. We played tempo basketball. I guess their defense had a lot to do with it."
As for Purdue's defense, Bowie and Walker combined with Turpin to make it ill-planned.
"They sagged," said guard Jim Master, "and Walker and Sam tore them up."