Date story was published: Sunday, December 9, 1984
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Kentucky continued its search for a patterned offense yesterday. Not surprisingly, it wasn't found here.
Playing the kind of helping man-to-man defense it is famous for, Indiana beat the still-learning Wildcats 81-68 and gave Coach Bobby Knight his 400th career victory.
Kentucky hung tough with superior rebounding in the first half and Richard Madison's outside shooting in the second half.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But Kenny Walker and James Blackmon, the Wildcats' inside-outside punch was rendered, well, punchless. Walker did manage to tie Madison for scoring honors with 16 points, but the 6-foot-8 leaper could get off only 10 shots against IU's collapsing defense. Walker got only four baskets from his favorite positions, the low post and the 12-foot mark in the lane. The rest came after rebounding some of his team's many misses.
Those subpar numbers, however, were a bonanza compared with the difficulties Blackmon encountered. Blackmon got off only two shots and was held scoreless by Indiana freshman Delray Brooks.
"We just didn't have an offense," UK coach Joe Hall said. "We probably ran three patterns well all game."
Yesterday's defeat was Kentucky's third straight, a phenomenon that hasn't happened to the Wildcats since 1978-79 (another transitional season). Kentucky hadn't been 1-3 since 1973-74. Now the Wildcats will take that record against Louisville in Freedom Hall on Saturday night.
"We're not a very good ballclub and we've got a tough schedule," Hall said."We have not been able to get confidence with our young team."
While Kentucky's learning process remained painfully obvious, Indiana appeared to regroup (just as Hall predicted earlier last week). Encouraged by 17,214 fans at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers evened their record at 2-2 and avoided the mini-slumps that resulted in losses to Louisville and Notre Dame.
"The big difference today over our other two games was when things got away from us we got back in the flow of the game," Knight said. "I don't think we ever lost control of the game."
After the first five minutes, the Hoosiers never trailed. Indiana increased its lead to as much as 10 points in the first half and 17 in the second. UK could come no closer than five points in the second half.
There was a glaring contrast in the production the two teams got from their backcourts.
Steve Alford, IU's sophomore quarterback and Olympian, burned the Cats for 24 points. In each half, Alford quickly shot UK out of its man-to-man defense. Against the Kentucky zones, he was nearly automatic from the perimeter.
IU's other guard, Brooks, had only four points, but the freshman's contributions were impressive nonetheless. In his first start, the 6-foot-4 rookie had 10 assists, three steals and committed no turnovers. Those combined numbers, Knight said, were "the key stat" in the game.
UK's guards? The starters, Harden and Blackmon, went scoreless. The substitutes, Paul Andrews and Ed Davender, combined for eight points.
"I was scoreless several times last year, but I didn't think I would be this year," Blackmon said. "Indiana played aggressive defense, but we weren't executing."
Harden agreed, saluting the Indiana defense but saying, "We probably shut ourselves down."
Kentucky's fate was sealed yesterday with 10 minutes to play. Having retreated into a 2-3 zone, UK rallied to within five points when Madison's jumper from the right corner cut Indiana's lead to 59-54.
It was then the Hoosiers' multiple weapons proved too much. In the next three minutes, IU got baskets from three spots on the floor that make zone coverage a tough task. Forward Mike Giomi, who had 19 points, hit a jumper from the left baseline. "He owns the baseline," Hall said. The shot put IU up 61-54.
On the Hoosiers' next possession, center Uwe Blab took a feed in the lane and wheeled in a right-handed hook. The 7-foot-2 West German had only 16 points in Indiana's first three games. Against the undersized Wildcats, Blab scored 18.
''I thought Blab played really hard today," Knight said. "Hopefully, he can understand that that's what he has to do."
Indiana's next possession was capped by an Alford jumper. It wasn't one of the classic jumpers from the side that Alford had been hurting Kentucky with (when he wasn't feeding Giomi on the baseline or Blab in the middle). Alford forced it up from the left side of the foul line as the 45-second shot clock ticked down inside five seconds.
Nevertheless, the shot dropped, as nearly two-thirds of Indiana's attempts did yesterday, and put the Hoosiers' safely ahead 65-54 with 8:25 remaining.
''They shot, well, it was unbelievable," said UK's Bret Bearup of IU's 66.1 field-goal percentage. "It seemed like every time I had Blab blocked out perfectly, the ball would go through the net."
Meanwhle, UK shot often, if not well. The Cats got off 65 shots, 12 more than their average after three games. But Kentucky made only 41.5 percent, just 35.1 percent in the first half.
"We were very impatient offensively and we were not executing our offense," Hall said.
One Wildcat who did shoot well in the first half was Bearup. The 6-9 fifth- year senior made half of his eight attempts in the half and finished the game with 13 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
However, 12 of those points and seven of the rebounds came in the first half.
In the second half, Knight put quick Winston Morgan on Bearup, who was stationed at the high post. Morgan denied the entry pass, and Blab was still there to help out if Bearup thought of driving around Morgan.
Walker also faced multiple defenders. On most of the occasions when Walker got the ball near the basket, he was immediately surrounded by two and sometimes three Hoosiers.
''It's hard to even fan (pass the ball back outside) when you're facing that situation," a sympathetic Harden said.
Walker suggested outside shooting to allievate the pressure.
Yesterday, the outside shot, like the UK patterned offense, just wasn't there.