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CATS DEALT DEVIL OF A LOSS IN OT

Date story published: Wednesday, December 19, 2001

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kentucky and Duke put the classic in the Jimmy V Classic last night. And Kentucky proved what it came here to prove: that everyone, including No. 1 Duke, must reckon with the Cats this season.

Only the individual brilliance of Duke guard Jason Williams kept Kentucky from the delicious victory. Williams scored 27 of a career-high 38 points after halftime to lead Duke's heart-pounding 95-92 overtime victory.

All 27 of Williams' points came after Duke faced its largest deficit of the season: 59-47 with barely 12 minutes left.

"I just rode him as much as a jockey could ride a horse," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I kept calling his number and he kept responding. He put on one of the most sensational performances under pressure you'll see."

Williams' final points erased UK's final lead, 89-88, with 1:39 left in overtime. His driving three-point play put Duke ahead 91-89.

After Cliff Hawkins missed two shots, Williams expanded Duke's lead by finding center Carlos Boozer on a pick-and-roll pass. Boozer's layup put Duke ahead 93-89.

Duke (10-0) clinched the victory when Dahntay Jones rebounded a missed three-pointer and scored with 9.6 seconds left. It was only his second basket of the game.

Williams made four of five three-point shots after halftime.

"I was kind of worried," Williams said. "I thought a couple of them were way off. I yelled, 'Off!' And it was nothing but net. I was completely fooled."

Williams also had four assists and only two turnovers in 42 minutes.

"We had no answer for him," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "I thought we did a very poor job of switching out (on picks for Williams). Even when he did drive to the basket, we weren't in position to take charges."

Hawkins, who shook off early foul trouble to help lead UK's defiant competitiveness, put it more bluntly. "He lit us up in the second half," he said of Williams. "He was the reason they beat us."

UK fell to 6-2. The Cats return to action Saturday against another storied program, Indiana, in Indianapolis.

Barring an injury or two, the game could hardly have started more poorly for Kentucky. The Cats turned over the ball on their first two possessions. Duke scored on five of its first six trips downcourt. And, maybe worst of all, Hawkins once more could not resist fouling. Two reach-in fouls sent him to the bench with 17:54 left.

But Kentucky shook off all that to take a 43-40 halftime lead. For that, the Cats could thank their bench, which outscored Duke's reserves 26-4.

In particular, freshman Rashaad Carruth, who did not even look at the rim last weekend against Kentucky State in an apparent protest over playing time, exploded onto the college scene. He came off the bench to score 14 points in the half. That doubled his previous career-high (seven against Virginia Military Institute). More importantly, his sharp-shooting seemed to steady the shaky Cats and throw Duke off stride. He finished with 19 points.

Carruth entered the game at the 13:54 mark. He needed only 90 seconds to affect the game. With 13:05 left, he hit a three-pointer from the left corner to give UK its first lead, 16-14.

On UK's next possession, Carruth made a backdoor cut and made a layup.

As if feeding a hot hand, Kentucky kept going to Carruth. After Duke rallied to take a 27-21 lead, Carruth's jumper from the left side capped a UK response that gave the Cats a 29-27 lead.

Center Marquis Estill also provided clutch play off Kentucky's bench. Sitting behind surprise starter Jules Camara, Estill came into the game with 15:36 left. He contributed nine points and a physical presence to battle Boozer inside.

Baskets by Estill and Keith Bogans gave Kentucky its largest lead, 41-35, with 1:11 left in the half.

Duke, which started so strongly, needed a late spurt to close within three by halftime.

In contrast to its stumbling start, Kentucky roared in the opening minutes of the second half. The Cats ripped off a 9-0 run to take a 52-40 lead. Camara scored five of the points, including a tip-in to set the 12-point lead, UK's largest in the game and Duke's largest deficit of the season. Duke's previous high deficit was nine against Seton Hall and Ball State in the Maui Invitational.

Camara also blocked two shots -- his third and fourth of the game. He finished with a career-high five. Duke got no points in its first six possessions and did not score until freshman Daniel Ewing's driving layup with 15:46 left.

Krzyzewski had removed his entire starting lineup from the game at the 17:02 mark. Sophomore Andre Buckner of Hopkinsville directed the all-reserve lineup.

"It was E.R, putting the pads on the heart," Krzyzewski said of the mass substitution. "This is no longer a game you can play around with. You have to compete."

The move made little difference until reserve center Matt Christensen beat Estill for a three-point play on a fastbreak layup and foul. The three-point play, which came as Duke's five starters waited at the scorer's table, reduced UK's lead to 54-45.

Buoyed by the play, Duke's starters looked intent on cutting more chunks out of the lead. Williams spun intent into gold. He removed any lingering doubts about his individual supremacy or his ability to grab a game by the throat.

With Duke down 59-47, Williams scored 19 of his team's next 24 points. That spree included driving layups and three three-point baskets. The second of the treys put Duke ahead 68-67 with 5:10 left. It was the first time UK trailed since the 4:26 mark of the first half.

In all, Williams scored 23 of Duke's final 31 points of the second half.

Williams' third three-pointer put Duke ahead 71-69 with 4:08 left.

In the face of such a starburst, UK did not wither. After Williams' fourth three-pointer put Duke ahead 77-75 with 1:22 left, Kentucky got within one on a Camara free throw. Then UK took a 78-77 lead when its leader, Tayshaun Prince, hit a leaning left-handed floater with 17 seconds left.

Two timeouts later, Duke tied it when Prince was called for fouling Williams on the drive. Williams made one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds left in regulation.

Kentucky missed its last shot -- a 25-foot heave by Hawkins -- and it was on to overtime.

Duke winning streak

Duke has won 20 straight games and has the longest current winning streak in the nation. Its last loss was a 91-80 setback to Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 27, 2001.

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