UK Men's Basketball

Not your daddy's Hoosiers: UK rolls 72-54

As nationally televised spectacle, Kentucky's 72-54 victory over Indiana on Saturday looked more like Survivor than Masterpiece Theatre.

It was rock 'em, sock 'em basketball where taking charges and help defense ruled.

The teams combined for 43 turnovers and precious few style points.

But UK Coach Billy Gillispie saw a thing of beauty.

"It was great to watch us play defense for a long time in the first half," he said. "(It was) about as good as it gets."

In terms of points allowed, it was Kentucky's best effort in almost four years. UK limited Indiana to 13 first-half points, the lowest total by an opponent in a half since Campbell scored 11 in the opening half on Dec. 29, 2004.

The Cats' defense smothered an Indiana team starting three freshmen as it begins digging out of a canyon-sized hole. More than once, IU's first-year coach, Tom Crean, called a play and the Cats denied the pass intended to begin the effort.

"Their pressure, intensity and enthusiasm was as high as I have seen it this year," Crean said.

Kentucky, which improved to 7-3, credited the week it had to prepare.

"We've been working on their plays all week," Jodie Meeks said. "We were pretty familiar with their play calling.

"We wanted to get them out of what they're comfortable with and push them way out beyond the three-point line so they were disrupted and they didn't know what to do."

Mission accomplished in the first half.

Kentucky scored the game's first 14 points. Then it seemed to get more one-sided from there as UK stormed to a 36-13 halftime lead.

IU made six shots, none in the game's first seven minutes and none in the half's final five minutes. Even Patrick Patterson's foul trouble (to the bench with two fouls at the 13:11 mark) failed to slow the onslaught.

Indiana, which started three freshmen, simply struggled to run a semblance of an offense. Tom Pritchard, a freshman who leads the Hoosiers in scoring (14.1 ppg), had more turnovers (five) than points (four) in the half. IU's other double-digit scorer, Devan Dumes, missed all four of his first-half shots, which matched his number of first-half turnovers.

Indiana's ugly numbers included 23.1-percent shooting (6-for-26), four assists and 15 turnovers. At least twice, Crean could be heard calling out a play and UK's defense (first by Kevin Galloway, then by Michael Porter) refused to let IU's trigger man catch the ball.

Indiana didn't score until Pritchard's layup with 13:35 left. That reduced UK's lead to 14-2.

"We just couldn't deal with their length and athleticism," Crean said. "We were delivering the ball to them. Our youth showed up today, but (Kentucky) turned it up and had another gear, and they used it today."

Kentucky's first-half lead reached its zenith at 32-6 when Josh Harrellson, who led UK with a career-high 15 points, hit a three-pointer.

Harrellson scored UK's final seven points and finished the half with 11, one shy of his previous career-high.

Kentucky did not begin the second half well.

The Cats missed eight of their first 10 shots and committed four turnovers in the first eight minutes. In that span, Patterson shot two airballs and Porter hit nothing but air on a three-point attempt.

Meeks evoked memories of the famous finish in the North Carolina-Georgetown 1982 championship game. He rushed down and threw a no-look (or no-look-long-enough) pass to Dumes, who cruised to a breakaway layup.

But Kentucky had such a cushion, the poor stretch had no effect on the outcome. Indiana got no closer than 41-26, which was close enough to bring anxiety from the stands.

"We kind of let up a little bit," Harrellson said. "We didn't have the same mentality."

Patterson, who contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks despite constant double-teaming, said the Cats "steered away" from the first-half intensity.

Apparently, the first-half defense so pleased Gillispie that, while noting UK's turnover problems (23 against Indiana), he saw good things ahead.

After Kentucky flattened the Hoosiers, he said, "I think we're getting ready for a steamroll."

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