Date story published: Wednesday, November 18, 1998
Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith apparently came up with a Prince of an idea for a shooting guard last night.
Freshman Tayshaun Prince put in a strong bid for the position in Kentucky's 99-64 victory over Eastern Kentucky.
His heady play at both ends of the floor belied the fact that this game was his first as a college player. He scored from the lane and the perimeter. He passed for several baskets. He even defended, a rarity for a player a few months from his high school graduation.
He finished with 10 points, four assists, four rebounds and no turnovers in a little more than 19 minutes.
With plenty of help from his friends, Prince led Kentucky to the most lopsided victory in the school's six-game series with EKU. The previous high was an 85-55 romp in the 1991-92 season.
Prince stood out, in part, because his position is the most heavily contested. He seemed to get an edge on the competition when UK Coach Tubby Smith started him in the second half. Sophomore Saul Smith, the coach's son, went to the bench, where he could relieve point guard Wayne Turner.
But other UK freshmen played well, too. Backup center Souleymane "Jules" Camara had a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in his debut.
Desmond Allison contributed defensive energy.
Of the UK freshmen, guard J.P. Blevins struggled most. His first two passes resulted in turnovers. But he battled, diving for a loose ball and later hitting a defiant three-pointer.
Kentucky may not get stiffer competition in the season's second game. The opponent, Mercer, has an 0-2 record.
Kentucky, which led 58-35 at halftime, began taking control shortly after Prince entered the game. He contributed several big plays at both ends of the floor. Not so coincidentally, a 9-7 UK lead ballooned to 37-16.
During his personal coming-out party, Prince hit a pair of three-pointers. That matched his total in UK's exhibition (2-for-11) and supported his billing as an accurate outside shooter, albeit with an unorthodox shooting motion.
The first three, which came from the right side, gave the Cats a 16-11 lead. The second, from the left side, gave UK its first double-digit lead: 25-15 with 10:23 left.
Shortly after the first three-pointer, Prince helped ignite UK's defense. His steal on the press and feed for a Scott Padgett layup gave UK a 20-13 lead.
The Padgett layup prompted EKU Coach Scott Perry to call timeout with 11:58 left. The UK coach then turned up the heat by inserting two more energized freshmen - Allison and Camara.
On the way to a 37-16 lead, Prince:
* Fed perfect passes into the low post that netted layups for Mike Bradley and Padgett.
* Denied an inbounds pass to EKU point guard Darius Acuff. The Colonels were called for a five-second violation.
Camara continued to nicely compliment Prince inside. The freshman from Senegal contributed three baskets. Each was noteworthy.
Camara hit a layup off a pretty pass from Heshimu Evans. Evans drove diagonally right to left across the lane.
Camara took a lob from Evans and dunked.
Camara took a feed to the post, faked to his right and then wheeled into the lane for a soft turnaround jumper. That shot gave UK its largest lead of the half, 43-19.
EKU freshman point guard Whitney Robinson kept UK's first-half lead from growing to even larger proportions. He scored 12 straight points late in the half. Included were three of the Colonels' four treys in the first half.
Prince continued to supply heady play as a starter in the second half. In the first 90 seconds, he did not assume Bradley would make a mildly contested fast-break layup. Instead, he got in position for an easy putback when Bradley's shot came off the rim.
The basket started an 8-0 UK run that began the second half. That gave the Cats a 66-35 lead and left only one question unanswered: Would UK top the record for most lopsided victory in the series?
UK fans who must find something to fret about will concentrate on free-throw shooting and three-point defense.
The Cats made only four of their first 12 free throws. Bradley made one of five.
UK's defense, which puts a higher priority on guarding the basket area, surrendered eight three-pointers.