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UMASS JUMPS AHEAD EARLY, TOPS CATS

Date story published: Wednesday, November 29, 1995

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- For a second straight game, Kentucky fell far behind in the early going. Unlike the opener against Maryland, the Cats did not roar from behind to win.

It wasn't for lack of trying that Kentucky lost 92-82 to Massachusetts. The Cats erased a 19-point deficit by halftime and seemed poised to take control.

Well, maybe poised is the wrong word. The Cats stubbed their toes -- as reflected by 23 turnovers -- while pressuring relentlessly.

"You can't press and scratch and claw, then turn it over 23 times yourself," UK Coach Rick Pitino said. "You might as well not press at all."

A lesser team than No. 5 UMass might have caved in. But the Minutemen fought off repeated charges to win their opener.

"I don't believe in my eight years one of my teams has been rattled like they were in this game," UMass Coach John Calipari said. "It was their refusal to lose attitude. (Kentucky) made their runs. We answered. We showed our competitiveness."

UK fell to 1-1, and as Pitino predicted would happen quickly, probably lost its No. 1 ranking.

Tony Delk led UK with 21 points. Walter McCarty chipped in 17.

UMass All-America candidate Marcus Camby was a tower of strength. He equaled his career high of 32 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked five shots and was an intimidating presence throughout the game.

"A great player played a great game," Pitino said of Camby.

Kentucky was happy to be tied at 45 with UMass at halftime. Probably, the Cats would have been satisfied to be behind by 10 at the break. Being even seemed like a comfortable cushion.

What Pitino feared became reality. As in Friday's opener against Maryland, the Cats fell behind by double digits in the early going. UK rallied to beat Maryland, but Pitino figured UMass would be more difficult to come back against because the Minutemen play a more deliberate style.

The game could hardly have started more poorly for Kentucky. The Cats trailed by 10 points less than five minutes into the game, by 16 at the 12:18 mark and ultimately by 19 with 10:10 left before halftime.

Maybe worse was how Kentucky fell behind. UMass showed its advertised talent for offensive rebounding immediately. The Minutemen gabbed three in the first two minutes.

For the second straight game, UK's opponent seemed quicker and more decisive.

Mark Pope, the hero of the Maryland victory, made only two of six free throws. He went nine-for-nine from the line against the Terps.

Foul trouble hurt UK. Derek Anderson departed with two fouls at the 16:43 mark of the first half and finished the game without a single field-goal attempt.

Pope picked up two fouls at the 14:07 mark.

Camby, meanwhile, scored 16 first-half points.

Kentucky had only one basket until Antoine Walker tipped in a miss with 12:58 to go.

When the deficit reached its zenith (29-10), Walker tried to inspire his teammates in a huddle before Camby made two free throws.

Walker did not immediately turn his exhortation into positive action. Eleven seconds later, he charged wildly on a post move.

Before the next inbounds, Pitino could be heard confirming the apparent Kentucky confusion. "Ton, what play is that? That wasn't 'four',' the UK coach said to Tony Delk.

Three-point shooting, full-court pressing and depth brought Kentucky back. Suddenly, UMass lost its sync, and UK got it in gear.

Kentucky's first sign of hope came when UMass guard Edgar Padilla rushed an improbable 25-foot three-point attempt. UK rushed down for a basket: Wayne Turner put back Walker's missed fast-break layup. The Cats trailed 31-20.

Kentucky's final push game in the final five minutes of the first half. Trailing 39-27, McCarty sparked an 18-6 run into intermission. He one-handed Delk's missed leaner and rammed it through.

A Delk three-pointer reduced the deficit to 43-41 with 2:08 left.

A successful last-second play to end the half further signaled hope. Walker hit a leaner in the lane with three seconds left to tie it at 45.

Kentucky failed to seize the initiative at the start of the second half.

Camby stole the first Cat pass over mid-court and soared for a dunk.

Thanks to a technical against Pitino, UMass widened its lead to double digits at the 17:31 mark.

Padilla made both free throws. UMass got three more points on the possession when Dana Dingle drove for a three-point play.

UMass repelled repeated Kentucky threats. After a Delk three-pointer cut the deficit to 64-62, UK got two chances to take its first lead. Delk and Epps missed three-point shots.

Trailing 70-68, UK muffed a chance to tie it when Epps overthrew a lob for an open McCarty.

Camby was immense the next time the Cats got within two. His heavily contested turnaround pushed UMass ahead 78-74 with 3:13 left. Then he made two free throws after being fouled while rebounding a UK miss.

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