Date story published: Sunday, December 27, 1998
LOUISVILLE - Cut off the head, and the body will die.
In a nutshell, that tells you everything you need to know about Louisville's 83-74 whipping of archrival Kentucky yesterday.
The bouncy and suddenly oh-so-deep Cardinals took Kentucky's three senior leaders - Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner and Heshimu Evans - and harassed them into the Freedom Hall floor.
Just two Saturdays ago, UK's Big Three electrified Rupp Arena by combining for 73 points to doom No. 2 Maryland.
Yesterday the trio combined for only 32 points, and their play was even less effective than that number suggests.
"Those were the guys we wanted to shut down,'' Louisville guard Marques Maybin said. "We knew they were the heart of that team."
And the Cards had a plan.
"Coach Davenport (Scotty, the U of L assistant ) had scouted them so well, we felt like we had been playing with them all year,'' Maybin said. "We knew how to play those guys."
U of L's plan for Padgett was to run at him when he was an open shooter and make him put it on the floor.
"We didn't think he could hurt us off the dribble,'' Maybin said.
Mission accomplished. Padgett finished with 13 points but got most of his points from the post or on putbacks. With Kentucky desperate to get its three-point shooting attack going, Padgett was 0-for-3 on threes.
For Turner, the Cards wanted to give him the perimeter shot and stop the dribble. And, learning a lesson from how Duke played Turner, if the UK point guard drove, the Cards wanted him to go right, not left.
Mission accomplished II. Turner, usually at his best in big games, finished with 11 points. But he had six turnovers compared with only four assists. And, for the second straight year, he was outplayed by Louisville point guard Cameron Murray (14 points, 10 assists, three turnovers).
As for Evans, Louisville wanted to keep contact with him on transition.
"We thought we had a good matchup there with Nate (Johnson),'' Maybin said. "Most of (Evans') points come off pure hard work, hustle plays and run-outs. We wanted to keep him from hurting us on the break."
Mission accomplished III. Struggling the whole game, Evans finished with only eight points and four rebounds and also committed four turnovers.
He missed all three of his three-point attempts, and one - fired from the right wing - looked as if it was being direct ed with a scud missile guidance system.
It sailed some 6 feet across the basket, never struck rim nor backboard, and flew out of bounds.
It was that kind of day for UK's seniors.
"Oh yeah, they got frustrated,'' Louisville forward Tony Williams said. "You could see it on their faces. You could really see it on Scott's face."
Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith said UK has little chance to win tough games when its seniors struggle.
"We count on those guys; they're the guys that have been there,'' Smith said.
The UK veterans appear to be putting too much pressure on themselves and trying to do too much, Smith said.
"We've got some guys trying to do it all,'' he said. "We need a little more patience on offense. Guys don't need to do it all."
You will not hear from the Kentucky seniors. In an uncharacteristic move, the UK locker room was closed after the game.
Smith said things will open up for Kentucky's veterans when they learn to have faith and trust in their younger teammates.
"We need time to practice so they can get more confidence in the other players," Smith said. "And that comes from practice. It does not come from playing games."