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UK SNUFFS OUT UPSET BID

Date story published: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The guards weave along the perimeter. Then at the business end of the play, a big man sets a pick for the point guard near the top of the key. The point guard penetrates and then looks to score himself or pass to an open teammate.

Kentucky calls it the "C" play and no doubt it made upset-minded Lipscomb c-sick last night.

"That's solely what they did," Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson said after UK won 67-49 to advance to next week's Guardians Classic final four in Kansas City.

Locked in a surprisingly competitive struggle, Kentucky turned its fate over to the "C" play. Excellent choice.

"Actually, it's my favorite play," said Rajon Rondo, whose all-around play suggests plenty of favorite selections. "It's going to the hole and creating. Somebody's always open."

Rondo's career-high 19 points and team-high five assists testified to the effectiveness of the "C" play.

So did Ramel Bradley's 12 points, his second-highest output as a Cat.

"We had a hard time keeping 'Ron-jo' -- or whatever his name is -- in front of us," Sanderson said of Rondo.

Rondo, also known as the Most Valuable Player of the Guardians Classic Lexington Regional, used the "C" play to make a move to a smaller lineup pay off.

With 14:54 left, UK Coach Tubby Smith replaced the tallest player in the program's history, Shagari Alleyne, with perhaps its quickest, Rondo.

The only other substitution Smith made the rest of the game came at the 12:38 mark: Sheray Thomas for Bobby Perry. Thereafter, Thomas, Rondo, Bradley, Ravi Moss and Rekalin Sims stayed on the floor.

UK tried small and quick to stop Lipscomb's Eddie Ard, who scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.

"Eddie Ard was like playing in his backyard," Smith said. "No one was guarding him."

A moment later, the UK coach corrected himself. "We tried everybody," he said. "We started with Rekalin. Then Sheray. We finally said, 'Let's try Ravi.'

"At the end, we tried Rajon. We tried everybody without much success."

Or as Moss quipped, "Guarding Ard was hard."

No smorgasbord of choices at the offense end. To "C" or not to "C," that was not the question.

"I think we ran it the whole second half, the way it was working," Bradley said.

Rondo downgraded Bradley's estimate, but still noted UK's liberal use of the "C" play.

"Eight or nine trips in a row," he said.

"We look for the weakest of the big men. The tallest. The wideset. The slowest feet.

The screen sets up a switch in which an opposition big man must defend Rondo. Good luck.

Or Bradley. No treat either.

"No big guy can stay in front of me and Rajon," Bradley said.

Sanderson agreed.

"He's so crafty with the ball," the Lipscomb coach said. "He sees over guys. He made great passes."

Bradley contributed clutch shooting. Ten of his points came in the second half, none bigger than a three-pointer from the left corner with Kentucky clinging to a 38-36 lead.

"Bradley made some big, back-breaking threes," Sanderson said.

Lipscomb, a Nashville-based Church of Christ affiliated school of 2,548 students, did not lead the final 32:17. But the Bisons kept within striking distance.

Lipscomb's last best chance to threaten Kentucky came mid-way through the second half. Trailing 36-34, Trey Williams's three-pointer rimmed out.

Rondo literally took over, easing the tension with a one-man fastbreak. He rebounded Williams's miss, dribbled the length of the court and scored.

Otherwise, Kentucky feasted on "C" rations.

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