Date story was published: Sunday, December 13, 1987
Saturday's hero, Cedric Jenkins, struck again yesterday.
Jenkins, whose contributions aided Kentucky's overtime victory over Indiana last Saturday, tipped in the basket with one second left that allowed UK to outlast back-from-the-dead Louisville 76-75 yesterday.
His reaction? "I wish we could schedule all our games for Saturdays," Jenkins said.
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If yesterday's thrills constituted a trend, UK Athletics Director Cliff Hagan ought to get right on it. One of the hoariest of athletic cliches applied to what Kentucky and Louisville wrought: there were no losers.
UK improved to 4-0 and protected its No. 1 ranking.
Louisville fell to 0-2, but regained its self-respect. "If we had something to prove, it was to ourselves," center Pervis Ellison said. "We didn't play as hard as we could have against Notre Dame (a 69-54 loss) and that cost us that game. Coach (Denny) Crum came into the locker room after this game and said, 'Guys, that was a helluva effort.' "
The emotions of a Rupp Arena crowd of 23,489 soared and soured as this hairpin curve disguised as a college basketball game unfolded. First, Louisville established that it came to compete despite Crum's predictions of doom during the week. The Cards took a 19-17 lead midway through the opening half.
Then Kentucky took charge. Helped by a six-men-on-the-floor technical on Louisville, the Cats scored 12 straight points and took a 29-19 lead. Before halftime, the margin grew to as many as 16 points, 45-29, as visions of last season's 85-51 rout of Louisville danced in the minds of delirious UK fans. And players. "I thought their backs would be broken," Rob Lock said.
Wrong. UK's shooting cooled, from 45.9 percent in the first half to 35.7. Coach Eddie Sutton blamed impatience. Louisville's warmed, from 34.3 to 64.3. And a 45-32 halftime lead shrank to 60-59 with 8:53 left.
Later, a 70-65 lead seemed safe. But three rat-a-tat-tat turnovers against Louisville's press allowed the Cards to score seven points in 36 seconds.
The spurt, capped by Kenny Payne's three-pointer with 2:21 left, gave Louisville a 72-70 lead, its first since 19-17.
Three times in the final 81 seconds the lead changed hands. Rex Chapman's free throw with 1:21 left put UK ahead 74-73.
Ellison, immense in the middle with 20 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and four steals, answered with a baseline jumper. Louisville led 75-74 with 40 seconds left.
Enter Jenkins, whose only basket came 39 minutes and 59 seconds after tip- off. His timing was impeccable.
UK called time with 11 seconds left to map its strategy. The plan? A play called "Three box" in which Jenkins and Lock set a double-pick for Chapman near the foul line. "It's the same play we ran against Ole Miss last year," assistant coach Dwane Casey said. Then, Chapman's lean-in 12-footer gave UK a 64-63 victory.
Yesterday, he never touched the ball. Louisville double-teamed Ed Davender as soon as he caught the inbounds pass. "They (guards Mike Abram and Keith Williams) came at me so fast, I knew if I threw a pass, it'd probably be intercepted," Davender said.
Davender was nearly trapped in the corner, but kept his dribble alive and maneuvered for an off-balance 12-footer along the baseline. "I probably forced it a little," he said, "but I didn't have much choice."
The shot rebounded off the rim to a crowd that included Lock, Jenkins and Louisville's Herb Crook, All three claimed to have touched the first tip, which ricocheted off the glass and rolled dramatically around the rim and off.
"I thought I'd grab it," Crook said, "but I jumped too soon."
Lock said: "I don't believe anybody (among the Cards) went up with two hands to get it. They tried to slap it away."
Where was Ellison? Doing the right thing at the wrong time. "I saw Rex wide open (at the foul line). I ran out to cover him and Cedric went to the spot I left."
Jenkins controlled the second tip, which bounced sweetly off the glass and through the basket. "It looked like Cedric never came down (from the first tip)," Davender said. A second later, it was over.
The chances of a dramatic finish seemed remote earlier in the game.
Thanks to Winston Bennett's adrenalin rush, the Cats withstood Louisville's quick start. Bennett scored nine points in the game's first eight minutes and seemed intent on single-handedly shooting down the Cards. "Playing against Louisville does that to me," Bennett said.
But fouls again foiled Bennett. As he did against Indiana, UK's senior forward got into first-half foul trouble. He picked up his third and fourth less than four minutes into the second half. He played just six minutes after intermission and fouled out with 1:51 left.
"I was real upset with myself for fouling out against Indiana and I tried to keep from fouling today," Bennett said. "But my adrenalin got so high, I couldn't do it."
UK's bench and the technical on Louisville seemed to deliver a knockout blow later in the first half.
Formerly exiled to the bench, Derrick Miller rebounded his own miss and scored to tie it at 19-19. Eric Manuel's back-to-back baskets put UK ahead 23-19.
Crum had 7-footer Felton Spencer ready to report in when Louisville called time. As the Cards broke the huddle, Spencer joined five other Cards on the court. When the ball was inbounded, Louisville was whistled for a technical.
"Felton didn't say anything to Kenny (Payne, the player he was to replace)," U of L assistant Jerry Jones said. "And the coaches were so busy drawing up plays, we forget to tell Kenny he was out. That was the coaches' fault."
Asked how dumb the coaches felt, a smiling Jones said: "Very."
Davender made the technical free throw and sank a three-pointer with the ensuing possession. The four-point play pushed UK ahead 27-19.
Louisville went almost four minutes without a point as Kentucky pulled away.
Davender, who had 20 points, drove to a three-point play that gave UK its first double-digit lead: 33-21 with 4:33 left.
Two Chapman baskets -- the first a driving dunk off his steal -- completed a 28-10 run that put the Cats ahead 45-29.
"We were on the ropes," Ellison said.
But Payne's three-pointer with nine seconds left in the half steadied Louisville.
When the Cards made 11 of their first 18 second-half shots and UK missed 13 of its first 20, the game was on.
UK rapid-fire turnovers against the press pushed Louisville over the top. Crook intercepted Chapman's pass and scored. Payne and Abram trapped Davender under the basket. Payne took Davender's pass and scored. "I couldn't see anybody," Davender said. "Those guys are 6-5. I'm 6-2 at best."
Then Bennett tried an off-balance, left-handed flip downcourt. The pass was about 10 feet short. Payne made UK pay with the three-pointer that put Louisville up 72-70.
"We made a lot of impulse passes," Bennett said. "We were playing hot potato, trying to get it to some other guy fast."
Added Lock: "We just lost our composure. We had the game won for a second time. But like Coach Sutton says, turnovers come in bunches. That's another proverb of his that's right."
Sutton, the prophet, had also predicted UK fans would be happy with a one- point victory over Louisville.