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WILDCATS BURNED TO A CRISPIN

Date story published: Sunday, November 26, 2000

Kentucky got fried last night, extra Crispin.

Bringing new meaning to the basketball term "two-man game," brothers Joe and Jon Crispin shot Penn State to a stunning 73-68 victory over the Cats.

The Crispins scored 57 of the points as Kentucky, which saw its Rupp Arena winning streak snapped at 20 games, lost a home opener for the first time since Dec. 7, 1988. Northwestern State ruined that opener for then-UK Coach Eddie Sutton's last Kentucky team.

Even Joe Crispin, who torched the Cats for 31 points, was stunned.

"Honestly, and this is not arrogant in any way, but a couple of the shots I hit and Jon hit were pretty ridiculous," he said.

Kentucky, its record falling to 1-3 for the first time since 1984, dominated inside. The Cats outrebounded Penn State 57-36.

But UK shot poorly from outside (5-for-26 from three-point range), missed too many free throws (5-for-15) and got too little from its main guns to beat the Crispins.

"For us to let two guys score 60 points, that's ridiculous," UK's main man, Tayshaun Prince, said.

The production from UK's top scorers, Keith Bogans and Prince, had an unreal quality, too -- but in a negative sense. They combined to make one of 14 three-point shots -- 4-for-24 overall -- and score 10 points.

"We expect them to carry a lot of the scoring for us," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "When they come up with three (Prince) and seven (Bogans) points, we're going to have a tough time."

Kentucky, which was led by freshmen Erik Daniels (16) and Jason Parker (15), will have a week to work on its shooting and its psyche before resuming play next Saturday at No. 7 North Carolina.

The first half played out as if it were scripted. Kentucky dominated inside, as expected. And just as the pre-game hype had it, Penn State proved to be a dangerously good three-point shooting team.

Kentucky made only four shots outside the lane in the first half. The Cats did not make a shot outside the shadow of the basket until Saul Smith hit a 15-footer from the left side with 7:15 left.

Penn State stayed close because of its outside shooting. With the Crispins leading way, the Nittany Lions made more three-pointers (seven) than two-pointers (six).

The Crispin brothers led the way. Joe and Jon Crispin scored 21 of Penn State's first 23 points and finished the half with 15 each.

"What was going through my mind was they're not going to make them too much longer," Prince said.

Wrong.

Older brother Joe, a senior voted the Big Ten's best shooter by that conference's players, affirmed the correctness of that balloting. He made seven of 15 three-point shots en route to 31 points. More remarkably, he did it after nursing an upset stomach all day.

"I don't know if I ate something or what," he said. "But I just laid around all day."

Younger brother Jon, a sophomore, nearly matched Joe. He made six three three-point shots and scored 26.

Each Crispin came up big down the stretch of the first half when Kentucky threatened to build a comfortable lead.

With UK enjoying its largest first-half lead at 30-20, Joe Crispin swished a three-pointer over freshman Cliff Hawkins to stem the UK momentum.

Later, when the Cats led 34-26, Jon came down on the fast break, stepped back and swished a three. Again Hawkins was the luckless defender.

Each Crispin struck in the final 30 seconds. With 27.6 seconds left, Joe hit two free throws to reduce UK's lead to 39-35.

After a timeout, Penn State foiled UK's plans. A surprise trap led to Gerald Fitch losing the ball to Penn State's Titus Ivory, who fed Joe Crispin for a layup with five seconds left.

Joe Crispin saw those final minutes of the first half as critical.

"It was, 'Hey, quit talking about we can play with these guys,' " he said. " 'Why don't we talk about let's beat these guys.' We came out of the locker room saying, 'Hey, we can can win this game. We should win this game.' "

Each Crispin hit a three-pointer as Penn State outscored UK 12-2 to start the second half. That gave the Nittany Lions their largest lead, 49-41, with 16:13 left.

The Cats kept charging and finally tied it on Saul Smith's three-pointer with 11:32 left.

Joe Crispin answered with a three-pointer.

Prince tied it at 58-58 with a three-pointer, his only basket. Jon Crispin hit a three-pointer 19 seconds later.

Parker's post-up basket tied it at 61-61 with 6:04 left. Each Crispin hit a three-pointer to put Penn State ahead 67-61 with 4:26 left.

Poor free-throw shooting hurt Kentucky. The Cats made only two of 10 second-half free throws. Fitch's two misses with 1:21 left left Kentucky trailing 69-67.

Joe Crispin then purposefully took Saul Smith one on one and hit a 15-footer with 50.7 seconds left.

Kentucky had one last chance.

Newly reinstated Marquis Estill hit one of two free throws with 27.5 seconds left to reduce the deficit to 71-68.

Then in one of his few missteps (if you don't count a tad too itchy trigger finger), Joe Crispin lost his footing as he took the inbounds pass against pressure.

"I got hit in the head," he said. "I told the ref, 'How about calling the foul the next time.' "

UK called time to set up a tying shot. But the only shot UK got was a rushed 25-footer by Bogans that was tipped by Penn State's Gyasi Cline-Heard and never reached the basket.

"I didn't pay attention to the clock," said Bogans of the shot he took with about 12 seconds left. "I thought there was only two or three seconds left. So I was just trying to get a shot up. I thought we'd been dribbling around too long."

That left Tubby Smith, who wondered what happened to the plan to limit the Crispins' touches, to ponder what might have happened had another pass or two been made instead of the botched execution.

"Again," the UK coach said, "that was our M.O. for the game."

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