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Kentucky Opens Gillispie Era With Exhibition Blowout

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Billy Gillispie took the court as
Kentucky's coach for the first time Wednesday night and, if one
exhibition game is any indication, he's making good on his promise
to turn up the tempo.
The Wildcats used deadly 3-point shooting and numerous
fast-break buckets to run all over Pikeville College 99-64.
Gillispie, wearing a gray suit and bright yellow tie, knelt just
inside the coaching box at the corner of Kentucky's bench much of
the game. Although it was the first of two that won't count in the
standings for the Wildcats this week, the new coach intensely
followed the action, barking at his players and occasionally the
referees.
If Gillispie was the most-watched newcomer at Rupp Arena
Wednesday night, second was freshman power forward Patrick
Patterson - a blue chip recruit out of West Virginia.
Patterson, who finished 10-of-12 from the floor for 21 points,
entered the game less than two minutes in and scored four seconds
later from the paint. He added an alley-oop layup late in the first
half and his first dunk as a Wildcat early in the second.
Kentucky connected on 63 percent of its shots, but by far the
hottest touch belonged to sophomore guard Jodie Meeks. He led the
way with 34 points, connecting on seven of his nine 3-point
attempts.
Meeks' 27 points in the first half matched Pikeville's team
total. His career high is 18, but the exhibition totals don't count
in the record book.
If the game was ever in question, the Wildcats put it out of
reach early in the first half with a 16-0 run that turned their
13-9 lead into a 29-9 advantage. All but one point in that span
came from long range, as Meeks nailed three 3-pointers and Joe
Crawford added two.
Kentucky's defense was nearly as impressive, allowing no
fast-break baskets - compared with 18 points for the Wildcats - and
only seven second-chance points.
Gillispie, who said he still hadn't settled on his starting
lineup Tuesday night, furiously mixed and matched throughout the
game, using 12 players and a variety of combinations.
His exhibition starting lineup featured senior guard Ramel
Bradley and four sophomores: Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Mark
Coury and Meeks.
The Wildcats play another exhibition Saturday against Seattle
before opening the regular season Tuesday night against Central
Arkansas.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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