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CATS FIND WRIGHT MIX, 97-75

Date story published: Tuesday, November 24, 1998

CINCINNATI - Two of Kentucky's three senior captains started the game on the bench because they missed a curfew.

Walk-on Steve Masiello, who chafes at the perception that he's a glorified mascot, walked into the locker room and - surprise - saw the name "Steve" in the starting lineup chalked on the blackboard. "I don't think there's any more Steves on the team," he said before asking roommate Scott Padgett, "That's me, isn't it?"

Adding to the confusion, UK Coach Tubby Smith twice tried to tame his unwieldy rotation with five-man substitutions.

Kentucky beat up the notion of a set rotation as much as it did Wright State last night. UK won 97-75. But with refining substitution patterns as an objective, Smith used the word "setback" for this game.

"It was a slight setback," the UK coach said. "We felt we were moving into a real tough part of the pre-(conference) schedule. We needed to know (the substitution pattern). That's why I was really upset with two of the captains being tardy."

Point guard Wayne Turner and swingman Heshimu Evans missed the team's 11 p.m. curfew Sunday in Lexington.

"Yeah, it surprised me," said Padgett, the third team captain. "We're sort of on an honor system. Most of the time, (Smith) doesn't check. That one time he does, you better be there."

Neither Turner nor Evans protested their innocence.

"Although I thought my excuse was legitimate, it was a team rule," said Turner, who declined to reveal his excuse. "It can't be broken. It was my fault. I didn't notify Coach what I was doing. It was just being selfish. I was just happy he didn't bench me for the game."

Turner, who had started 50 straight games dating to Senior Day 1997, vowed that he would not miss any more curfews.

"Obviously, it won't happen again," he said, "because I don't want to not start again."

Evans, who unwittingly returned to his spark-off-the-bench role from last season, said he and Turner apologized to their teammates. "It's something I've never done before," he said. "It won't happen again. I'll make sure."

The benchings and Masiello's first career start in three seasons took the spotlight from the return of three UK players from suspension. Jamaal Magloire and Ryan Hogan first came off the bench as part of a five-man substitution at the 14:45 mark of the first half.

The third suspended player, Myron Anthony, did not get into the game until 3:55 remained in the second half.

Although Magloire (six blocks, tying a career high) and Hogan (five points) add ed to a whopping 55-14 advantage in bench scoring, their contributions did not bring order to Kentucky's sometimes chaotic play.

"We need to get continuity and get a substitution pattern," Smith said. "It kind of threw us for a loop not starting Wayne and Heshimu."

UK, now 3-0 and headed today for the Puerto Rico Shootout, muddled through a 14-turnover first half. "We were really awful taking care of the ball," said Smith, who no doubt approved of just five second-half turnovers.

UK did not take the lead for good until center Mike Bradley, who ha d 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds, hit a left-handed floater in the lane with 9:07 left in the first half.

The Cats led only 34-30 with less than two minutes left in the half before easing to a 40-32 lead at intermission.

"I don't think we played too bad defensively," Padgett said of the first half. "But we didn't execute offensively. We tried to make spectacular passes in the first half rather than the simple pass. Sometimes you need to make the pass that leads to an assist rather than try to make an assist."

Asked if taking winless (0-4) Wright State for granted contributed to the impulse to score style points, Padgett saslug"I don't like to say it, but that probably has a little to do with it. How many lob passes did we have that didn't connect? And how many lob passes are we going to throw against Maryland? Maybe one."

Smith began the second half with the possible mid-January starting lineup: Turner and freshman Tayshaun Prince at guard, Evans and Padgett at forward and Bradley at center. His substitutions seemed predictable, with Saul Smith the first guard off the bench and Magloire and freshman Jules Camara the first big men off the bench.

Coincidentally or not, UK dominated the second half. Outscoring Wright State 21-6 to start the second half, the Cats established a 61-38 lead with 13:55 left.

"Had we come out with that lineup, we could have gotten after them from the get-go," Padgett said. "We may have come out a little tentative."

Magloire saw the fact that UK won convincingly despite a revolving door at the scorer's table as a long-range plus.

"We overcame more adversity," he said. "That's the difference between good and great."

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