Date story was published: Thursday, January 7, 1988
One press row wag suggested this one required an obituary rather than a game story.
Mississippi State: dead on arrival at Rupp Arena.
For the record, Kentucky led 93-52 when last night's game ended.
But it was over in the first three minutes. If not sooner.
In those 180 seconds, UK:
Scored nine of what became 14 straight points, thereby erasing State's only lead, 2-0.
Hit four straight shots, part of a 10-for-12 opening stretch. Two of the misses were blocked shots.
Reaped four turnovers from its overplaying man-to-man defense. The freshmen-dominated Bulldogs almost maintained the turnover pace, committing 18 in the opening 20 minutes.
"I don't know if we were intimidated as much as Kentucky took us out of everything we tried to do," State coach Richard Williams said.
Rex Chapman made two ridiculously easy steals.
On the first, he stepped into a passing lane and took a ball in the chest. Off Chapman went, gliding the final 10 feet or so to a underhanded, serve-it- up layup.
The second -- another here-take-it-theft -- had Chapman off to another layup. This time he did a 360-degree turn as he went up for the shot against State guard Greg Lockhart.
The rest of the half was more of the same: State turnovers, UK defense, UK scoring.
When a television timeout was called with 4:53, UK led 40-13. State claimed a weird statistical trifecta: 13 shots attempted, 13 points and 13 turnovers.
By halftime the Cats led 55-17. Already assured was a 10-0 record overall and a 3-0 start in the Southeastern Conference.
"The first half was the best we've played all season," UK coach Eddie Sutton said. "The defensive intensity was excellent. The shot selection was good (70 percent shooting, 21 of 30). We had only three turnovers. We can't play much better than that."
Williams can only hope his team, now 8-3 overall and 0-1 in the SEC, can play no worse.
"They played like the No. 1 team in the country," Williams said of UK. "We played like we've been picked: the No. 10 team in the (10-team) conference.
"I'm not crazy. I can see the minutes played on the stat sheet. It could have been worse."
Every Wildcat played at least eight minutes. The results were mixed.
Derrick Miller emerged from a shooting slump colder than the weather outside. Having hit two of his previous 15 shots (13.3 percent), Miller made three of seven.
The biggest, his first, was a three-pointer from the corner that established Kentucky's largest lead of the night, 84-38. It also brought the night's loudest roar from the crowd.
"One thing I told Derrick was don't even think about scoring, even shooting," Sutton said. "Handle the ball a few times. Play defense. Try to rebound. I think that relaxed him. He certainly played the best he has all year."
Miller credited an attitude adjustment. "A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to go about things with a better attitude," he said.
LeRon Ellis labored in a surprise early return. He wasn't supposed to play until Saturday, when he expected his sprained ankle to be completely healed.
"I figured I wasn't getting in because I hadn't played in the first half when we were blowing them out," Ellis said.
But early in the second half, Sutton asked the freshman if he wanted to play.
"I gave him a look like 'You're asking me?' " Ellis said. " 'Yeah, I want to play.' "
Why would Ellis want to play in a game when he wasn't needed? Why risk a possible re-injury?
"I've got to play my way in shape," Ellis said, "and I want to get a feel for the court again."
He certainly got that. His 11 minutes included about six pratfalls.
"Rather than twist the ankle, I decided to just go to the floor," Ellis said.
The ankle, he said, was about 85 percent healed.
As for the game, highlights included:
A play that typified how conclusively it was UK's night. Rob Lock was stripped of the ball on the low post. It rolled right to Winston Bennett, who double-clutched his way to a three-point-play layup. UK's lead grew to 45-17.
Sean Sutton's behind-the-back dribble that set up his slicing drive through three State defenders. Sutton's layup made UK's lead 51-17.
The slam that might have been. Miller's rebound and one-arm sling of an outlet to Sutton sent up the night's most thunderous slam. Sutton fed a streaking Richard Madison, who delivered a slam that all but exploded through the hoop.
If it had counted, the dunk would have given UK an 88-42 lead.
But Madison walked.
"Weak call," Madison said, smiling. "When I heard the whistle, I thought I'd get a three-point play. I got geeked.
"I still think it was great."