Date story published: Sunday, January 1, 1989
As expected, Louisville beat Kentucky yesterday. A late rush set the final score of 97-75, the worst beating the Cards have ever given UK.
But it wasn't as lopsided as hoped for by those Cards who suffered an 85-51 beating here against UK two years ago.
Asked if he were satisfied, Louisville's Tony Kimbro said, "Not exactly because they beat us worse than we beat them. They really surprised the fellas they were as good as they were. We expected to beat them by a large margin."
Though beaten for the seventh time in 12 games, UK could take solace in that. The Cats managed to avoid that embarrassment despite getting a season- low seven points from leading scorer LeRon Ellis and being outscored 31-3 by Louisville's bench.
Derrick Miller picked up the slack and then some. Miller rained five three-pointers -- two from NBA range -- and 34 points on Louisville. "Bet I made some shots you guys didn't think I could," Miller told reporters.
Still, the Cards paraded to a victory punctuated by a three-dunk-in-40- second flurry at the finish.
"We made them play our game," Louisville coach Denny Crum said. "We didn't let them stand around. They had to play up-tempo. That was the most important thing. Make them play 94 feet."
Of those 94 feet, Louisville concentrated its defense on defending the 15 feet in the lane.
"Anytime you play 94 feet, you've got to give some things up," Crum said. "We thought he (Miller) would be their best and probably only guy that would take many shots out there. We didn't feel he could beat us alone. They'd have to beat us inside. We felt as long as we kept the ball out of the inside, out of Ellis' hands ..."
Eyeing the presence of a dominating center for the first time this season in U of L's Pervis Ellison, Ellis blinked. UK's sophomore center had only two points and one rebound in a decisive first half when the Cards jumped to a 50-35 lead.
"It's a lot different playing against an established big man like Pervis," Ellis said. "And I kind of stymied myself. I had a couple shots wide open and missed. Then I missed free throws, too (1-for-4)."
Although Ellison credited weakside help from his teammates for limiting Ellis, Crum threw bouquets only at Ellison.
"You put Pervis on a guy, normally that guy doesn't shine like he normally does," Crum said. "Pervis has a way of keeping the ball out of your hands and intimidating you.
"And he gets his points, too."
Ellison led U of L with 20.
UK's game plan was similar to Louisville's, Coach Eddie Sutton said. Using a lot of 2-3 zone and some man-to-man, the Cats sought to keep the ball out of the inside. Sutton copied the strategy from Vanderbilt, which beat Louisville 65-62 last month.
"But I didn't think Kimbro would hit three three-pointers early like he did," Sutton said. "Vandy was able to get away with that, but we weren't able to."
Louisville's first four baskets -- and five of the first six -- were three-pointers over UK's 2-3 zone.
"That's probably the first time in history that's happened for us," Crum said. The Cards finished with seven three-pointers.
"Vanderbilt was our third or fourth game (third, actually) and the guys weren't relaxed then," Kenny Payne said. "Coach was playing so many, putting them in and out that it was hard to get a rhythm."
Louisville needed the early shooting to match UK's threes -- two by Miller and one by Sean Sutton -- and to keep the Cards settled until their vaunted pressure defense could take over.
UK did not commit a turnover in the first seven minutes and had only one with less than nine minutes left in the half.
At that point, the Cats trailed only 27-23. Then UK acted as if it had a quota of turnovers to meet. UK had eight turnovers in the final nine minutes.
In that span, Louisville reeled off a 17-6 spurt that put UK behind 44-29.
"We went to a different kind of press," Crum said. "At first, we had a yo- yo, Mickey Mouse, jockey-for-position-type press. When we changed, that opened up a pretty good lead and we maintained it."
Added Chris Mills, more succinctly: "We sort of fell apart."
Mills scored 13 points and for the fifth straight game grabbed double- figure rebounds (he had 10).
From 9:32 until 2:54, UK got only two baskets while committing seven turnovers.
"They turned up the heat and came after us," said point guard Sean Sutton, who matched his season high with four turnovers. "We got satisfied getting it across half-court and they sensed that and attacked."
Miller got trapped just over half-court and gave up the ball to trigger the 17-6 run. Louisville made UK pay on a pretty fast break that saw freshman Everick Sullivan flip a backhand pass to Payne for a three-point-play layup.
After halftime, UK flirted with getting back in the game.
A Miller three-pointer made it 54-43 and the Cats got the ball back on a turnover. But Ellis missed two free throws.
Twice UK got to within 12 later. The final time was 75-63 on the last of Miller's three-pointers.
But after a Kimbro miss, LaBradford Smith beat Miller to a rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to stem the rally.
From there, only the final margin was in question.