Date story was published: Thursday, December 7, 1989
If you liked Kentucky's 102-97 victory over Mississippi State Monday night, you would have loved last night's 111-75 victory over Tennessee Tech.
In relative terms, UK merely warmed up against State.
Last night, the Wildcats really cranked it up.
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Kentucky launched an apparent NCAA-record 41 three-point attempts. Eighteen -- one short of the apparent NCAA record -- went in as UK buried Tennessee Tech in a tipoff-to-final buzzer display of "Pitino ball."
The three-point proficiency was only the most obvious aspect.
Check. Tech had 23 turnovers.
Running and gunning with a purpose?
Check. The Cats hit a season-high 45.6 percent of their shots. UK also had 31 assists, 12 by point guard Sean Woods.
Discombobulating the opponent?
Check. "We never did get any kind of control of the game at all," Tech coach Frank Harrell said. "They controlled it from top to bottom."
Kentucky, 3-1, never trailed. The Cats scored the game's first eight points. After Tech got as close as three midway through the first half, UK rode its three-point shooting to an ever-expanding lead: 54-33 at the half; as much as 39 points thereafter.
"They're adjusting to the style a lot more than I imagined they could," Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said. "As a matter of act, it's a little too good to be true."
UK's next game, at No. 2 Kansas on Saturday afternoon, may provide a reality check.
Loyola-Marymount had held what is believed to be the three-point attempts record: 39 against North Carolina in last spring's NCAA Tournament. (The NCAA record book is up to date only through last season.)
Valparaiso and St. Francis, Pa., still hold -- until further notice -- the record for made three-pointers, 19 in games last season.
"Records are great," Pitino said. "They'll be broken. Hopefully, we'll break them."
While the quantity of three-point attempts set a record, Pitino said the quality was superior, too.
"The fact is we're taking pretty good 'threes,' " the Kentucky coach said. "We started out against Ohio U., we took some bad 'threes.' Out of the 41, I'd say 39 were great three-point shots."
Eight Wildcats attempted three-pointers. Five hit at least one.
UK's top gunner, Derrick Miller, led each category. Miller was 7-of-18 from beyond the three-point line.
Miller's 36-point night included the record-breaking three-point attempt. With 4:23 left, Miller caught a fast-break pass, took a step back behind the line and fired up Kentucky's 40th three-point shot. It swished, giving UK a 101-66 lead.
The last time UK scored 100 or more in back-to-back games came in 1978-79. Joe B. Hall's team beat LaSalle 109-77 and West Texas 121-67.
"They were backing off me," an incredulous Miller said. "That's my forte: shooting three-pointers."
The sparks from Miller's embers ignited other Wildcats. Junior center Reggie Hanson, who had not attempted a three-pointer in his first two seasons, hit four of six. Freshman Jeff Brassow made four of seven en route to a career-high 20 points.
"It's real contagious," Brassow said. "There was Derrick not missing. There was Reggie not missing. You think, 'If they're not missing, I'm not going to miss, either.'
"I made my first couple of shots, got comfortable and got in the flow."
Tech, 3-2, was billed as a running, three-point shooting team, too. But the Golden Eagles, attempted just 11 and made only two. The running Tech did seemed aimless.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Harrell said. "We got a good old-fashioned lesson in running basketball."
UK's various presses stayed a step or three ahead of Tech's adjustments, Harrell said.
"Kentucky gives you three or four presses and three or four looks," he said. "Each press is a different adjustment and they did a pretty good job hiding that. I told the guys the way to stop their press was to stop them from scoring. We didn't do that at all."
Tech's 23 turnovers were testament to the effectiveness of UK's press. So, too, was the Golden Eagles' 34.2 percent shooting. Tech came to Lexington having made a higher percentage of three-pointers (34.6) in its earlier games.
"We felt if we beat their press, we could score in our half-court sets," Harrell said. "We just didn't do it."
In its transition offense, "50 percent of the time we weren't in the right spots," Harrell said.
Pitino counted Tech beating UK's press 21 times, but converting a numbers advantage into points just four times.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Miller and Hanson, who finished with 18, pushed Kentucky to an 8-0 lead.
Tech closed to within 21-18 midway through the half.
Miller put the Golden Eagles away with a white-hot final two minutes of the half. In that time, Miller hit three straight three-pointers.
Two free throws with five seconds left, when Miller was fouled while manuevering for another three-point attempt, set UK's 54-33 halftime lead and ended his 25-point half.
UK made 10 of 24 three-pointers in the first half.
Miller and Hanson hit back-to-back treys to open the floodgates in an argumentative second half.
Pitino and Harrell were hit with technical fouls.
Pitino's came with 14 minutes left. It followed a driving double-clutching shot by Woods in traffic that fell short. Pitino may have thought Woods was fouled. Or he may have been trying to spark his team, which had been outscored 8-2 in the previous two minutes to cut a 63-39 lead to 65-47.
Pitino wouldn't say. "The refereeing was fine," he said. "If we had lost, it would have been bad."
Referee Don Shea hit Harrell with a technical at the 7:34 mark. Harrell said he received the technical for being out of the coaching box.
"I said, 'Look at Coach Pitino. He's at halfcourt,' " Harrell said. "I wasn't nearly as far out as Coach Pitino on that same exact play. That's the way life is at Rupp Arena. There are 20,000 referees in the stands."