Date story was published: Saturday, March 14, 1987
ATLANTA -- Thanks to Dennis Hopson, Ohio State continued its NCAA Tournament mastery over Kentucky here last night.
Hopson scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half in leading the Buckeyes to a 91-77 victory over UK.
The victory, Ohio State's fifth without a defeat against the Cats in tournament play, eliminated UK in the first round of the Southeast Regional.
Ohio State, 20-12, will play Georgetown here Sunday in the second round.
UK, its season over at 18-11, could point to poor shooting from three- point territory as well as Hopson. The Cats made only three of its first 12 three-point attempts in the second half.
But whether the Cats connected or not, Hopson was hitting at the other end.
His biggest basket came with 7:30 left. Derrick Miller's three-pointer had cut a one-time 12-point Ohio State lead to 67-63.
Fourteen seconds later, Hopson sank a three-pointer from the right corner.
UK got no closer than seven thereafter.
Superstitious Kentucky fans had to be worrying at halftime. The Cats trailed 42-40. The nine previous times UK was behind at half, the Cats went on to lose.
However, the way UK fell behind was reasson for Wildcat fans to have hope.
Curtis Wilson banked in a three-point heave from the top of the key with two seconds left to give Ohio State the lead.
Wilson's good fortune wasn't the only cause for optimism. When the teams left the floor at intermission, UK had held Dennis Hopson to 11 points. James Blackmon and Paul Andrews took turns guarding Hopson, the nation's second- leading scorer (29.2 ppg).
Hopson was limited to 10 shots. The 6-foot-5 senior made five, including two acrobatic efforts in the half's final four minutes. Hopson got Andrews off hit feet and hit a leaner while being fouled with 3:09 remaining. The three- point play cut Kentucky's lead to 36-35.
With 2:02 left, Hopson leaped for an inbounds pass and double-clutched under Rob Lock for a layup that again cut a UK lead to one.
Another source of good news was Kentucky's ability to play Ohio State's up-tempo game. As Coach Eddie Sutton said he wanted, the Cats attacked Ohio State's pressure.
After some problems early -- three turnovers and two near-miss turnovers in the first four minutes -- UK settled down.
When Richard Madison got a layup off early offense with 11:24 left, UK led 24-20. Twelve of the points came off early offense in beating Ohio State's press. Madison got four of his nine first-half points off early offense.
A rare four-point play pushed Kentucky's lead to 28-24. Rex Chapman, who had eight points at the half, hit a three-pointer while being fouled by Jay Burson.
Much of the first 10 minutes was played at Ohio State's preferred faster pace. The two teams combined for 52 points in that span, Chapman's four-point play completing that portion of the game.
The rest of the half was to UK's patient style. The two teams scored 30 points in that time.
Still, for only the fifth time all season, UK had 40 or more points by halftime. The high of 46 against Auburn at Rupp Arena last month was threatened but not surpassed.
Patience was what Sutton wanted when he called time with 16:54 remaining. Everyone at courtside could hear the UK coach make that plea as he signaled he wanted a timeout.
UK was trailing 50-44 and had just dodged a bullet when Chapman's pass against the Ohio State press was deflected -- but out of bounds.
UK had one turnover against the press before Sutton's timeout. The Cats also rushed their shots, throwing up three three-pointers. None connected as Ohio State broke from a 42-42 tie to a 50-44 lead.
The timeout provided little relief. The Cats were guilty of a 10-second violation after the break.
Then UK continued to miss three-point attempts. The Cats missed six of their first seven of the half.
At the other end, Hopson dominated. Hopson hit four of his first five shots of the second half.
After UK cut a nine-point deficit to five, Hopson posted up Andrews for a three-point play.
Later, he seemd to reach back two feet to catch a Burson pass in the lane. Hopson's layup gave Ohio State its largest lead, 67-55 with 10:07. The shot was his 10th and 11th points of the half. That matched his first-half output.
Sutton inserted Derrick Miller with 9:55 left. The move paid off when Miller hit a three-pointer from the corner to cut OSU's lead to 67-58.
When Ohio State missed the front end of two one-and-ones, UK could creep closer. Davender's two free throws with 8:49 left cut the lead to 67-60. They -- and Blackmon's steal of a feed for Hopson -- prompted an Ohio State timeout with 8:06 left.
UK got within 67-63 when Miller hit another three-pointer.
But Hopson answered with a three-pointer of his own -- a fadeawy from the right corner -- that pushed the lead back to seven (70-63).
When Lock missed the front end of a one-and-one with 6:55 left and Hopson kept cooking, elimination was staring Kentucky in the face.