Date story published: Monday, March 15, 1999
Seniors Scott Padgett and Wayne Turner scored 30 straight points for Kentucky, and 35 of the final 38.
And the Cats needed just about every one of those points to beat Kansas 92-88 in a Midwest Regional second-round game that served, belatedly and honorably, as the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the two of the three winningest college basketball dynasties.
"This is how a Kentucky-Kansas tournament game should have been," said Padgett, who scored a career-high 29 points and equaled a career-high four three-pointers. "I'm just glad we came out on top. We sort of willed ourselves to a win."
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Calling on its unequaled reservoir of experience, and benefiting from a bit of luck, too, Kentucky rallied from five points down with barely a minute left in regulation.
For all UK's rock-sure confidence afterward, center Mike Bradley acknowledged, "It seemed a little shaky for a moment."
Offensive rebounding sparked the comeback. A second opportunity allowed Turner to follow up his missed three-point shot with two free throws. That reduced the Kansas lead to 79-76 with 1:08 left.
After a Kansas miss, Kentucky tied it on another second-chance opportunity. Turner drove the left side of the lane, his patented move, but missed with 20 seconds left.
"I was trying to get an old-fashioned three-point play," Turner said of the shot that would have left UK behind by one against a team that made 22 of 26 free throws. "I was on the floor, just in shock, hoping somebody would get it."
Backup center Jamaal Magloire got the rebound. Although under the basket, he passed the ball out to Padgett near the top of the key.
Because Kansas guard Kenny Gregory flew at him, Padgett dribbled himself behind the three-point line and fired. The swish tied it at 79 with 18.7 seconds left.
"Had the guy not run at me, I might have shot a two," Padgett said. "I'm pretty sure I would have shot it."
Ironically, a 20-foot fadeaway was a shot UK Coach Tubby Smith normally would not allow.
"That was my shot in high school," Padgett said. "Coach doesn't let me shoot it no more. Coach doesn't like the fadeaway."
Kansas missed the chance to win it at the buzzer. Guard Ryan Robertson, who led the Jayhawks with 31 points, passed up a sliver of an open look in the lane and fed Gregory on the baseline. But having to float the ball over the on-rushing Magloire, Gregory shot an air ball.
"I misread the play," Robertson said. "I thought Kenny would have a layup. If I had to do it over again, I'd take the shot myself."
Said Kansas Coach Roy Williams: "If he could have made that play, if he made a different decision, they'd be talking about it years from now."
Robertson did not make many mistakes. His career-high 31 points equaled the second most scored by a UK opponent this season (Jumaine Jones scored 34 at Georgia). Backcourt mate Jeff Boschee added 18.
"Robertson and Boschee, they played awesome," Padgett said. "I don't know if they deserved to lose."
They lost because Padgett and Turner played a bit better.
Padgett's three-pointer at the end of regulation gave the duo 25 straight points for UK. It also gave the Cats an assurance that they'd be in St. Louis this week for the region semifinals (UK plays Miami of Ohio on Friday).
"When we got it into overtime, we thought it was our game to win," Bradley said.
Padgett gave UK the overtime's first points with a jumper from the top of the key.
The Cats did not take the lead for good until Padgett and Turner had a rare misfire. With the game tied at 84, Padgett could not control Turner's lob. But Magloire grabbed the loose-ball rebound and banked in a put-back to put Kentucky ahead 86-84 with 1:58 left. That snapped the monopoly Padgett and Turner had on UK's scoring at 30 points.
One or the other had scored every UK point since Heshimu Evans, the third of UK's clutch senior performers, curled for a 15-footer with 11:36 left in the second half.
When told of the 30 straight points, Turner expressed surprise. "Wow," he said. "I didn't know that one. I was just trying to find ways to score."
But Padgett, who had known exactly how many points Jones had scored against his defense that January night in Georgia, was keenly aware of his hot hand.
"We probably should have done this all season," he said. "But I'm not going to complain about the season now. I knew Wayne had it going. I made a point to tell everybody I had it going. I was like, 'Give me the ball.' "
The revelation came after he hit his first shot of the second half. "I was like, 'I'm hot. I made one in a row.' "
The first of many, as it turned out.