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DEFENSE IS STIFLING IN UKIT TITLE GAME

Date story was published: Sunday, December 22, 1985

Kentucky defended its UKIT title with a vengeance last night, thrashing highly regarded Pepperdine 88-56.

The rout of the Waves, ranked 20th in the nation in the United Press International poll of college basketball coaches, gave Kentucky its 24th championship in the UKIT's 33-year history.

Simply put, UK's defense was devastating.

In a span of almost 18 minutes in the middle of the game, the Wildcats held Pepperdine to only three baskets, though Pepperdine had shot 50 percent or better in its last seven games.

During Pepperdine's offensive eclipse, the Waves got only 11 points and were outscored 44-11.

Kentucky put the game away in the first 10 minutes of the second half. In that span, the Wildcats outscored Pepperdine 27-6, including a 16-0 run against the Waves' regulars that extended a 47-33 lead to 63-33.

The run eventually reached 18-0 and 29-6 as UK took a startling 65-33 lead.

Ed Davender's back-to-back baskets, one from the perimeter and the other a short shot of the fast break, began the half.

James Blackmon contributed a nifty reverse layup.

Kenny Walker, who had 21 points, made several big plays. He threw in a crashing slam that had Pepperdine's Jon Korfas cringing underneath.

Walker also had three straight baskets, displaying his versatile talents, which were recognized by a media vote that made him the tournament's most valuable player.

Davender and Blackmon joined Walker on the all-tournament team. Terry Williams of Southern Methodist and Dwayne Polee of Pepperdine also were voted to the team.

Walker's three baskets pushed the lead to 30 at 63-33. The first was the standard fast-break layup. Next was a rebound put-back, another of Walker's familiar shots.

The third was a new wrinkle, courtesy of Coach Eddie Sutton. Walker came out to the top of the key to poke the ball away from a Pepperdine player and then drove three-quarters of the court for a slam.

The UK subs got into the action, too. Cedric Jenkins had the ball poked away, retrieved it and hit a shot from the foul line. That concluded the 18-0 run. And the game, for that matter.

A 15-5 spurt at the end of the first half moved Kentucky comfortably ahead 36-27 at intermission.

Until that breakout, the two teams were locked in a tit-for-tat struggle that saw six straight lead changes at one point and a lead no greater than three in the first 12 minutes.

Then UK struck. Typically, a defensive play sparked the run-out.

James Blackmon, the shooting hero of Friday night's first-round victory over East Carolina, stripped Pepperdine's Dwayne Polee of the ball. Blackmon fed Ed Davender who drove for a layup that put UK ahead 21-18 and got the crowd excited.

Less than 90 seconds later, UK was off to its critical run at half's end.

Throughout the half, the Wildcats got back fast defensively, taking away Pepperdine's favorite weapon, the transition game. Pepperdine had only one fast-break basket in the first 20 minutes.

The effects were devastating.

In the half's final 6:35, Pepperdine got only one basket and that one was taken under extreme pressure. Polee had to avoid a falling Davender, who sought to take a charge, and then shoot from the baseline over a prone Richard Madison. The shoot swished at the buzzer, cutting UK's lead to 36-27 at intermission, and Polee limped off the court.

Pepperdine hit only one of its seven shots during the run and was guilty of four of its 11 first-half turnovers.

UK, meanwhile, was hitting the perimeter shot over Pepperdine's favorite defense, a 2-3 zone.

Winston Bennett hit two straight jumpers to start the 15-5 run. Some of the shots that were missed were rebounded and put back in. Roger Harden tapped Madison's missed free throw to Walker, who slammed it home for the sixth and seventh points of a 7-0 spurt that began the 15-5 run.

Later, Walker took a nifty pass from Bennett for a slam to start another 6-0 run.

Madison gave UK a lift with seven points off the bench. He gave UK its largest lead in the first half, 36-25, by fighting to the left corner for a rebound and then driving it home.

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