Date story was published: Wednesday, December 20, 1989
Rick Pitino meant he wanted a more aggressive defensive attitude when he set regaining "the eye of the tiger" as a goal during Kentucky's 10-day layoff.
He got that last night at Rupp Arena, plus another record-breaking display of shooting eye as well.
UK buried Furman under an avalanche of three-pointers and turnovers. Final score: 104-73.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Wildcats broke the NCAA record for three-point attempts and equaled the record for three-point goals.
The Cats attempted 47 three-pointers, besting their own mark of 41 set against Tennessee Tech and reaching or surpassing 40 attempts for the third straight game.
Kentucky made 19 three-pointers, equaling the NCAA record shared by Valparaiso and St. Francis, Pa. Nineteen was a Southeastern Conference record, beating by one the record UK set against Tennessee Tech.
UK set an NCAA record for the number of players hitting three-pointers in a game. Led by Derrick Miller's five three-pointers, eight Cats hit treys. The old record was seven, set twice by Arizona (1987 and 1988) and Loyola- Marymount (1988).
It could have been nine. But Johnathon Davis threw up an air ball similar to the shot he missed against Mississippi State.
"The records will be broken by us," UK coach Rick Pitino said. "We'll break our records. Someone will break ours. They'll all be shattered as time goes by as people realize . . . well, anyway, they'll all be shattered."
While Pitino couldn't bring himself to say the line is too close, Furman coach Butch Estes did.
Because of the distance (19 feet, nine inches), Estes said he couldn't complain about UK running up the score. The Cats attempted five three-pointers in the final two minutes in going for the record.
With the Rupp Arena crowd of 22,841 urging them on, the Cats got the record with 14 seconds left. Walk-on Junior Braddy took an inbounds pass, whirled and fired from in front of the Wildcat bench. The shot swished and Braddy was fouled on the shot. His four-point play pushed UK's lead to 104-71.
Running up the score -- a sensitive subject after Kansas battered UK 150-95 -- was not an issue, Estes said.
"I don't mind the threes," the Furman coach said. "He called off the press. If they kept pressing, that might not have been in the best light.
"I've never seen anything like that three-point shooting. It was quite an exhibition."
As a consolation prize, Furman left Lexington knowing its 20 three-point attempts helped set yet another record. The 67 three-pointers set an NCAA record for two teams in a game. The old mark was 57, set by UK and Kansas Dec. 9.
The three-pointers enabled Kentucky to pass the 100-point mark for the third time in six games. Treys also fueled a 25-2 first-half spurt.
But Estes thought UK's defense won the game.
Much had been made of the fact Furman had played Dayton, a team which presses continually like Kentucky. The Paladins committed a season-high 23 turnovers in that game.
Last night, Furman had 30.
"We anticipated they would shoot the three better than Dayton, but not press as well," Estes said. "Kentucky varies their presses a little more. We never could get in a pattern."
Pitino praised the defense as evidence his team had regained its "eye of the tiger" during the 10-day layoff that preceded last night's game.
"We definitely had the eye of the tiger," said Pitino, who noted the Cats had 29 deflections at halftime and 50 for the game. "That's unheard of. You don't get that unless you're really pouring it out. I haven't had too many teams get 50."
Pitino cited Furman's killer schedule as contributing to the high number of deflections. The Paladins traveled 20 hours in return from Hawaii Sunday night, then rode a bus for six hours to Lexington Monday.
"Coming back from Hawaii is the most difficult thing you can do," Pitino said, "especially against a team like ours that plays pressure defense."
Estes refused to blame fatigue for the defeat, Furman's fifth in eight games.
"We were down, they were good and that makes for a 40-point game," he said. "We didn't play well. Sorry. We have a much better team than we showed tonight."
Off-the-bench contributions by Jeff Brassow and Davis combined with a Miller shooting streak pushed UK to a 54-32 halftime lead.
Those players led a 25-2 spurt that enabled the Cats to break from a 16-16 tie to a 41-18 lead. At one point, UK scored 15 straight points.
Brassow contributed three-point shooting, hustle and ball-hawking defense to get UK past a sluggish start. Pitino called a timeout 45 seconds into the game: "No movement. . . . Nobody going to the boards," he said.
The game was tied at 16-16.
Davis added shot-blocking (three for the game) and a career-high six points.
Davis ignited the crowd with back-to-back blocks on Furman's leading scorer, forward Bruce Evans (16.4 ppg). First, Davis blocked Evans' dunk attempt on the fast break, then he rejected Evans' turnaround jumper with the rebound.
Miller, who otherwise made just five of 18 shots, hit three straight three- pointers to key the breakout. Those bombs expanded a 27-18 lead to 36-18.
The first and third three-pointers were from the NBA distance of 23 feet, nine inches.
"When I've got the ball there, my guy is saying, 'He won't take that one,' " Miller said. "After it goes in, he says, 'Man.' That's what I take. I can probably take a shot from a couple steps farther. You can't play me at the college three."
The rout was on.
"The three-point shooting really helps us," Pitino said. "People have to guard us so far from the basket. That's allowing so much dribble penetration."
UK never stopped shooting threes. Five were attempted in the final three minutes as the Rupp crowd encouraged the Cats to go for the record.
"With two minutes left, the crowd started yelling and I knew they were yelling for a reason," Braddy said. "The last two threes I shot, I knew. I knew if I came off a screen, I'd be half-way open. And I heard Coach Pitino telling us to go for it."