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WILDCATS WIN 89-81 WITH LATE SPURT

Date story was published: Thursday, January 11, 1990

This one came from the Rick Pitino textbook.

Tied at 72-72. Less than four minutes left.

Pitino's pressing, running, fatigue-inflicting teams are supposed to dominate at such times.

Though Kentucky lacks the critical essential -- depth -- the Cats ruled the stretch run last night.

UK outscored Florida 17-9 in the final 3:57 to win 89-81.

The Cats were desperate for a victory. "We needed it as badly as you think we needed it," point guard Sean Woods said.

The victory snapped UK's five-game losing streak. The Cats improved to 6-7 overall and 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference.

Florida, its dissension an obvious contrast to UK's togetherness down the stretch, fell to 5-5 overall and 1-2 in the league.

"It was the old ability of outhustling the opponent in crunch time," Florida's interim coach, Don DeVoe, said. "In the final analysis, not handling the ball and not making good decisions in the final minutes got us."

Woods and Reggie Hanson played key roles down the stretch.

Derrick Miller's two free throws with 3:49 left gave UK the lead for good at 74-72.

Hanson then drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to give UK a 77-72 lead to protect.

Woods protected it. A 52.6 percent free throw shooter entering the game, Woods hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final four minutes to clinch the victory. Woods led UK with 20 points, matching his career high. He had 20 against Portland.

Hanson's basket came after he had to weather a Dwayne Schintzius scoring burst. Schintzius, Florida's moody 7-foot-2 center, rolled up seven straight points and 11 of Florida's 13 in one stretch.

Schintzius, who led Florida with 17 points and nine rebounds, hit a free throw that tied it at 72, but he didn't score again as Florida dissolved down the stretch. The Gators closed to within 82-76 with 1:49 left.

Three straight turnovers followed.

Guard Brian Hogan, a hero early with four first-half three-pointers, fired a low-post feed off Schintzius' foot.

Hogan walked when surprised by Miller in the press. Hosie Grimsley's walk on a drive to the basket completed Florida's fade.

"We pressed and played about as smart as we've played in a while," Pitino said. "The key to the game was the press."

Florida converted just three times in 15 possessions against the press in the second half, Pitino said, proudly. The Gators also committed 24 turnovers.

Pitino also liked his team's reaction to Florida's man-to-man defense. The Gators limited UK to 23 three-point attempts. The Cats made eight.

But Kentucky went inside for 25 of its 41 second-half shots.

The Cats also got to the foul line much more than in recent games. UK made 27 of 45 free throws. Florida, which had four more field goals, was 13-of-19 from the line.

"We've been getting the short end of the stick from the refs," Woods said. "We were not able to play our game. I don't think those teams were beating us with their offense. They were beating us with freebies."

UK led most of the night, but never by more than seven points until the final three minutes.

Florida played on the brink of a turnover most of the game.

But Hogan's three-pointers kept the Gators in the game. With 2:43 left in the first half, UK's noted bombers were five of 16 from three-point territory. Hogan was four of four.

Hogan scored 12 first-half points, but didn't score thereafter.

UK pulled to a 58-51 second-half lead and appeared capable of breaking the game open.

But a technical foul against Deron Feldhaus helped steady the Gators.

Feldhaus got the technical for handling the ball after a UK basket at the 13:51 mark. UK had been warned about the delay tactic (to set up the press) in the first half.

Renaldo Garcia made two technical free throws. Dwayne Davis added two more with the ensuing possession.

The teams stayed within three points of each other until the final four minutes.

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