Date story was published: Saturday, March 15, 1986
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Fueled by a 21-4 first-half burst, Kentucky shot into the Southeast Region second round with a 75-55 victory over local favorite Davidson last night.
The victory, UK's 30th in this season of memories, advanced the Wildcats into Sunday's second round. UK will play Western Kentucky, which downed Nebraska 67-59 in another first-round game here last night.
Kenny Walker led the way with 20 points, becoming only the third Wildcat to score 2,000 career points in a game that saw this UK team become only the fifth to gain 30 victories in a season.
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Walker's 20 points pushed his career total to 2,006. Only Jack Givens (2,038) and Dan Issel (2,138) have more.
After a slow start, Kentucky's defense got in gear and propelled the Cats toward Sunday's second-round game.
Davidson had the upper hand early. Cheered on by many in the capacity crowd (11,666), Davidson ran its patterns and grabbed an 18-13 lead with 12:28 remaining.
Davidson got two three-point plays in the early going, an indication of UK being a step slow. Even two fouls against its leading scorer, Gerry Born, didn't hurt Davidson in the early going.
As he did in the Southeastern Conference Tournament finals last week, Eddie Sutton got on the referees, seemingly in an attempt to stir up his team.
Sutton was particularly irked when Kenny Walker was knocked into the row of photographers under the basket when he reached for a fastbreak pass. On the ensuing loose ball, James Blackmon sneaked into the lane and was called for charging even though he seemed to hit the floor first.
That's when Sutton spoke his mind.
Shortly thereafter, Davidson point guard Derek Rucker hit a jumper to give his team its largest lead, 16-11.
The margin was still five at 18-13 when Kentucky's defense struck.
In the next 10 minutes, Davidson got just one basket and scored but four points as UK ran off a 21-4 burst.
The run, which had contributions from several Kentucky players, shot the Wildcats from an 18-13 deficit into a 34-22 lead.
Walker got the run going. Held to one shot by Davidson's collapsing zone, Walker rebounded a miss for his first basket at the 11:45 mark to start the run.
Cedric Jenkins, who would return to keep the burst going, hit his head hard on the floor on the rebound and had to leave the game temporarily.
UK took the lead for good when James Blackmon stole a pass and drove for a layup. Blackmon was fouled on the shot. His three-point play put UK ahead 22-20 with 9:24 remaining in the half.
Meanwhile, Davidson continued to wilt. The Southern Conference Tournament champions went scoreless from the 10:08 mark, when Chris Heineman hit a jumper, until Pepper Bego made two free throws at the 4:23 mark.
In that stretch, Davdison made three turnovers and missed four shots (three by Rucker).
Davidson's frustrations grew to the point where it couldn't make a dunk. With 3:49 remaining, Anthony "Ace" Tanner slammed the ball off the back of the rim and was called for a technical when he hung onto the rim.
After Bego's free throws, Jenkins rebound and three-point play with 4:01 left put the margin at double figures for the first time.
A turnaround by Walker, only his third basket of the half, put Kentucky ahead 36-24.
The margin stayed at 12 as a rebound basket by Jenkins and Ed Davender's jumper with a second remaining answered two Davidson baskets. Davidson's two baskets were only its second and third of the final 12:28 of the half.
Kentucky erased what little doubt remained about the outcome in the first five minutes of the second half. In that span, Walker matched his first-half output of eight points and became only the third Kentucky player ever to score 2,000 career points.
Walker scored UK's first eight points of the half, personally outscoring Davidson 8-4 and increasing a 38-26 halftime lead to 46-32.
Walker ended the first half with 1,994 points.
His milestone points came with 17 minutes remaining. The shot was a layup as Kentucky beat the Davidson press.
Later another Walker basket increased Kentucky's lead to 20 (52-32) and signaled the start of what Roger Harden calls "showtime" with 12:54 to play.
Harden flipped a half-court behind-the-back pass to start a fast-break that culminated in a Walker layup.