Date story was published: Tuesday, December 29, 1987
After two-a-day practices and a two-car pileup, Kentucky finally got back to basketball last night, slaughtering the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves 100-58 at Rupp Arena.
A 20-2 spurt at game's end turned an impressive victory into a rout, moving Kentucky to 7-0 on the season and giving Eddie Sutton the 399th victory of his coaching career.
Senior forward Winston Bennett scored 24 points, picking up the 1,000th point of his career along the way. Rex Chapman, the sophomore guard, added 19, plus his usual supply of razzle-dazzle as UK handed the Division II Seawolves their fifth loss against 11 wins.
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The game was a Wildcat tune-up before UK rings in its Southeastern Conference schedule by entertaining Vanderbilt on New Year's Eve. And the Cats could certainly use the work. Ten days ago, they struggled before winning their own invitational tournament, prompting Sutton to cut his team's Christmas break short and make the practice schedule long -- as in two a day. (In fact, Sutton sent the Cats through two light practices yesterday.)
Last week freshman center LeRon Ellis sprained an ankle. He may miss two weeks. Then on Christmas day, Richard Madison and Eric Manuel were involved in a two-car accident. Both were bruised, but not hurt seriously. Neither played last night, though Sutton said Manuel could have.
Neither was missed. Kentucky, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and outrebounding the smallish Seawolves 25-14, opened a 20-point lead, 50-30, at the half. Bennett led the way with 14 points. Chapman added 12, going a perfect five-for-five from the floor. Two of those were three-pointers.
"We've been working extremely hard since we've come back from Christmas," Bennett said after the game. "Coach emphasized that we needed to play with a lot more intensity."
Bennett was the early leader, scoring six points in the first five minutes. His spark ignited a 9-0 run that sent the Cats in front by an 11-2 count.
The second basket came on a jam by Rob Lock off a nice assist from Ed Davender.
The third bucket was a three-point play by Cedric Jenkins, when "Swoop" in traffic -- though not the same kind Manuel and Madison encountered -- scored while being fouled, then hit the free shot. Bennett's follow of his own miss made it 11-2.
All this took Alaska out of its box-and-one defense, with a Seawolf stalking Chapman. The UK sophomore didn't score and still Kentucky jumped on top early. His first basket was a quick three-pointer that made it 16-8 Kentucky.
Chapman's second bucket ended a wild, back-and-forth frenzy in which Alaska's Dale Bartley blew a dunk, UK turned it right back over, UAA's Johnson misses a three-pointer, Kentucky got the rebound, got the ball out on the break, and Chapman slammed it home, one-handed no less, and UK led 18-8.
That enticed Sutton to explore his bench, coming in with Mike Scott, the 6-10 junior center, earlier than normal. Scott responded with a blocked shot, and his soft bucket from the right baseline ended a string of eight straight Kentucky points that put the home team up 28-10. There was 10:09 left to play.
Only two of the Alaska points belonged to Johnson, a 6-2 junior averaging 20 points per game. Blanketed by Davender, Johnson hit just one of five the first half and did not see the foul line.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky lead continued to grow. A three-pointer by Chapman made it 33-12. A Lock free throw made it 36-15. Then Chapman added another dose of thunder, blocking a shot by Alaska's Race McCleery.
Averian Parrish, who scored but four points in Alaska's last game (a loss to Tennessee Tech) scored 13 the first half as the Seawolves kept the margin around 20 until halftime.
Derrick Miller, UK's sophomore guard, was the last healthy Cat off the bench, and he quickly grabbed two rebounds. Bennett and Jenkins each had five off the glass in the first half for Kentucky.
"I was very impressed with the Wildcats," Alaska coach Ron Abegglen said. "They just clobbered us to death on the offensive boards. That probably hurt us more than anything the first 10 minutes."
It didn't take long in the second half for the Cats to pick up where they left off. A string of eight straight points pushed the advantage to 62-34. Davender hit from the left baseline. Jenkins scored inside. Davender hit two free shots. Chapman scored.
But at 67-37, Alaska had its best stretch of the game. Johnson finally put some points on the board, UK got a bit sloppy and the Seawolves shaved 10 points off the lead, cutting it to 72-52, which prompted Sutton to call a timeout at 8:11.
"He gave us a lot of incentive to play hard," said Jenkins, though Sutton wouldn't reveal his exact words.
"He just told us we were embarrassing ourselves, to go out and play," Lock said.
Kentucky got back to business. Bennett scored. Lock got a tip-in. Then at 80-56, UK went on a tear. Bennett, again, got it started. Lock jammed off an assist from Sean Sutton. Davender hit. Lock jammed off an assist from Davender. Sean Sutton hit a free throw.
Then Rex did it again, coming up with a steal, then making a dazzling behind-the-back pass to Sutton for a three-point play. That made it 92-56.
But the Cats weren't finished. After missing a layup, Chapman hit a jump shot. And Reggie Hanson made it complete, burying a jumper from the left corner.
Or was it complete? Not quite. Another Alaska turnover and Sean Sutton broke free for a layup, making it 98-56. After two Alaska free throws, Bennett scored on a drive giving the Cats the century mark.
Parrish led the losers with 15 points. Johnson had 14 points.
Beside Bennett and Chapman, Davender had 15 points and nine assists. Chapman had five assists and Bennett had four. Jenkins had 11 rebounds, Bennett had 10.