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DEFENSE BUOYS UK IN 98-79 WIN

Date story was published: Sunday, January 28, 1990

Take a bow, all you mothers-in-law.

You inspired Kentucky's 98-79 victory over Mississippi yesterday.

"I said our press and zone tonight have to be mother-in-law defenses," UK coach Rick Pitino said. "Total constant pressure and harassment."

For the most part, Kentucky's defenders butted in whenever Ole Miss tried to run a play, especially one for star forward Gerald Glass. Trapping out of its 2-3 zone, UK held Glass to 11 shots and 23 points.

Kentucky interfered with Ole Miss's chance to capitalize on the Cats' 29.5- percent first-half shooting. UK led 38-37 at halftime, thanks in large measure to the Rebels' 15 turnovers. For the game, Ole Miss committed a school-record 29 turnovers, out of which UK extracted 25 points.

And UK's pressing, trapping defenses were judged to have stayed a silly millimeter shy of fouling, thus nagging Ole Miss coach Ed Murphy to distraction.

With 9:50 left, and the Rebels having just coughed up five turnovers in a six-possession span, Murphy could take no more. He got the call -- UK's Derrick Miller fouling Ole Miss point guard John Matthews as Matthews dribbled upcourt under trapping pressure -- but that was of little consolation.

"I didn't say anything specific that I didn't say about 15 times before," Murphy said of his technical foul. "I said it once too often."

After the game, Murphy alluded to a presence as irritating as an overbearing mother-in-law: the officials.

"We had way too many turnovers in the first half to stay in the game up here where they play as aggressively as they do," Murphy said. "You can't call every foul. The game would be six hours long. I understand that."

Fouls or not, UK demonstrated renewed vigor. The Cats made amends for Wednesday's 74-70 defeat at Auburn while improving their record to 9-9 overall and 5-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss fell to 6-11, 3-5 in the SEC.

"Our zone defense was the best it's been in a long, long time," Pitino said.

As expected, UK shaded its defense toward Glass, the SEC's second-leading scorer (24.6 ppg).

"We wanted to limit the number of shots Gerald Glass would take," Pitino said. "The guys really did a good job in transition and in the half-court traps. It wasn't a flat zone. It was trapping with five guys zeroing in on the ball and Glass at the same time."

Glass took only four first-half shots. His 11 for the game were about half his average (20.3).

"They were matching up, but it was not like I normally see," said Glass, meaning not as aggressive. If true, for some reason Glass chose not to proceed with his usual offense.

"I was going with the flow," he said. "Whatever happened, happened. I was rebounding (a game-high 13) and doing what I could. You give the man the ball that's hot."

Expecting UK's denial tactics, Murphy said Friday that Glass could be a valuable passer, too.

But four shots in a half, 11 in a game, were too few.

"He gave the ball up more than I'd like him to," Murphy said. "I kept telling him to look for his shot."

Holding Glass to six first-half points, Kentucky would figure to have a large lead. It wasn't to be.

Joe Harvell, a 6-foot-7 freshman, picked up the slack. As the game began, Harvell put on the best three-point shooting demonstration this side of UK's Miller. He hit three straight bombs -- from the top of the key, from the right side and from the left side -- and had 17 points at the 15:13 mark.

Harvell, who came into the game having made 14 of 38 three-point attempts this season, finished with six three-pointers and 25 points.

Harvell shot Ole Miss to a 19-7 early lead. Pitino said he turned to assistant Billy Donovan, who scouted the Rebels' four-overtime loss at Mississippi State Wednesday.

"I kidded him and said, 'Good job, Billy. We really concentrated on him,' " Pitino said. "Billy said, 'Coach, he's only made 14 three-pointers on the season.'

"I said, 'You've got to anticipate that, Billy.' "

Even Harvell, who came to Lexington averaging 10.3 points, was surprised.

"I never have shot like that in college," Harvell said. "It's a great feeling. It's like you are talking to yourself, saying, 'When are you going to miss?' "

Turnovers helped Kentucky climb back into the game. In one five-minute span, the Rebels committed turnovers in seven of eight possessions. UK reeled off 12 straight points to take a 24-23 lead.

Despite Harvell's shooting, and their own misfirings, the Cats were even on the scoreboard. Richie Farmer, the new starting point guard, gave UK a 38-37 halftime lead with two free throws with one second left. But Murphy saw UK way ahead.

"We had 15 turnovers and we're one down," Murphy said. "The numbers didn't balance. All we had to do was handle the ball. Then we'd have a lead to play with and things would have been different. That really was the problem.

"We did a pretty good job against the press early when I had my experienced players in there. We had the thing going our way. When we had to rotate out and use some younger kids who have never played here, we did turn it over a lot. We let Kentucky back in it."

In the other locker room, Pitino breathed a sigh of relief even though UK's three-point accuracy was 2-for-18 for the half (6-for-28 for the game). Miller missed his six first-half attempts.

"I told them, 'You're taking great 'threes,' " Pitino said. " 'They just weren't falling. But you played fabulous defense.'

"We shot 29 percent and we're up one. So defense was the common denominator tonight. We did an outstanding job."

Kentucky put the game away with an 11-0 run midway through the second half. The spurt extended UK's lead to 65-50. Ole Miss committed three straight turnovers to begin the run, and had five in six possessions.

Murphy's technical completed the run, with Farmer hitting one of two technical free throws.

"I felt at halftime, the one thing we wanted to do was wear it down, wear it down," said Pitino, who told the team, " 'Somewhere in the second half, you're going to have your run.' "

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