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WALKER IGNITES UK PAST OLE MISS

Date story was published: Sunday, February 10, 1985

For Mississippi, deja vu is a ticking time bomb with K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y on his chest.

Twice in two months, Mississippi has made a habit of living on borrowed time against Kentucky. Twenty minutes to be exact.

Only last month in Oxford, Kentucky had misused - make that seldom used - Kenny Walker for a half.

Then, the Wildcats wised up and rolled to victory.

Last night at Rupp Arena: Ditto.

This time, UK beat Ole Miss 67-52 with Walker scoring 26 of his 33 points after intermission.

That production represented two-thirds of Kentucky's second-half points.

It was even more impressive knowing that Walker scored 18 of the points after having been poked in the left eye.

After finishing off Mississippi, Walker was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital to have the eye examined by an ophthalmologist.

One of UK's team physicians, Dr. Rob Davenport, said that Walker had suffered a corneal abrasion, a cut across the clear covering of the eye.

A hospital spokeswoman said that the injury "was not serious at all." Walker was expected to be at full strength at Monday's practice, said Brad Davis, UK's assistant sports information director.

To post his second straight 30-point game and fourth such outing of the season Walker needed a strong second half.

In the first half, he got off only four shots against Mississippi's collapsing 2-3 zone. He made two.

UK struggled, too. The Cats got a lift from Troy McKinley, who was en route to a career-high 14 points. But Ole Miss was able to stay within five (28-23) despite 40.7 percent shooting.

"They forgot he was on the floor," Rebel Eric Laird said of Walker. ''They were wasting their time. That made it close."

Walker made it a rout.

Kentucky ripped off nine straight points en route to a 13-2 second-half scoring spurt that decided the game.

Much as he did in UK's victory at Mississippi last month, Walker led the second half charge.

"I'm reminded of a story told of Adolph Rupp," Mississippi coach Lee Hunt said. "He was supposed to have called a timeout to introduce his team to Johnny Cox. In the huddle, he told them, 'I'd appreciate it if you'd get the ball to the All-American.' "

"I feel Joe (Hall) does the same thing. He does it at halftime."

Walker had eight of the points in UK's 13-2 run, including six free throws.

Kentucky's breakout widened a 34-30 nail-biter into a 47-33 runaway at the 9:08 mark.

From there, it was show time. Walker was the star.

"At halftime, I told them I didn't understand why they didn't get him the ball," said Hall, who nevertheless had a theory. "They underestimate Kenny and his potential to do something in traffic."

A victim of Walker once already, Ole Miss knew full well what was coming.

"We knew he was going to get his points," said Laird, who got 26 of his own. "He's in the wrong league."

UK, 13-8 overall, held onto a share of first place in the Southeastern Conference at 8-4. Florida, which beat Vanderbilt 78-66 last night, and Georgia, a 79-74 winner over Mississippi State, are also 8-4.

Ole Miss saw a two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 9-12 overall and 3-10 in the league.

Luck played a part in Walker's scoring and UK's decisive spurt. McKinley and Winston Bennett tapped a rebound away from each other. Walker took the loose ball and slammed it home. That shot gave UK a 36-30 lead with 12:34 remaining.

After an Ole Miss miss (the Rebels were zero for four and had two turnovers while UK took control), Walker was fouled posting up and made both free throws.

The two teams traded three-point plays (UK's by Bennett, who was celebrating his 20th birthday), and UK scored six straight points.

Walker had the first four, all on free throws. The first two came after having been poked in the left eye while coming down after grabbing a feed inside.

Walker sat on the floor several minutes before resuming play.

"It's pretty sore," Walker said of the injury, according to a sheet of quotes released by UK. "But I'm sure I'll be ready for practice Monday."

Two more free throws followed when Walker was fouled posting up and extended UK's lead to 47-33.

UK got its largest lead (63-45) when Walker extended his body for a twisting layup and three-point play at the 3:14 mark.

"He has an uncanny knack for making shots off balance," Hunt said. ''Kenny Walker is a special player, no doubt about that. It's my opinion he is the premier forward in the country."

Neither team played very well in the first half.

How far back did UK and Ole Miss set back the game of basketball? About one month.

Last night's first 20 minutes were reminiscent of the first half on Jan. 9 when these same two teams thrashed to an 18-18 deadlock.

UK had a 28-23 lead at intermission last night. The Cats needed a 9-4 spurt in the final three minutes to get that.

Neither team shot well in the first half. UK made 10 of 22 shots (45.5 percent), while Mississippi could make only 11 of 27 (40.7 percent).

With freshman Richard Madison on crutches, UK had to go deeper on its bench to find an outside-shooting antidote for the Rebels' zone.

McKinley and Paul Andrews hit jump shots to push UK from a 22-21 lead to a 26-21 margin. Andrews hit two jumpers in the half, his first baskets since the Florida game on Jan. 19.

Ed Davender also gave the Wildcats a lift. As has almost become a custom, the freshman guard slipped into a passing lane, stole the ball and drove for a layup in the early going.

Davender's two free throws with four seconds left set the halftime score.

Rough play was evidenced in the first half.

Laird, Ole Miss' leading scorer, complained repeatedly about how UK guarded him on the low post. Laird finished the half with 12 points and was whistled along with Andrews for a rare double foul when the two were jockeying for position near the basket.

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