Gillispie Era Opens With 27-Point Rout Of Central Arkansas

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - In his 10 seasons as Kentucky's coach, Tubby Smith never had a team hold an opponent to 20 percent shooting. Billy Gillispie's players accomplished the feat Tuesday night in his first game.

So how did the new coach describe the defensive effort - the lowest shooting percentage allowed by the Wildcats since 1995 against Morehead State?

"Not very good," Gillispie said. "Their 20 percent wasn't enough us. It was more them. We set pretty high standards."

The 20th-ranked Wildcats coasted to a 67-40 victory over Central Arkansas to win Gillispie's debut in the opening round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.

Kentucky (1-0) faces Gardner-Webb on Wednesday night in the second round.

Joe Crawford, a senior guard who started under Smith, was one of the last players off the bench for Gillispie, not appearing until 13 minutes in.

He was promptly whistled for palming but then started taking over the offense, leading the team with 20 points - including two dunks.

Gillispie explained Crawford wasn't starting because of his "whoever earns it, gets it" philosophy. Crawford said he doesn't like the decision but will try to work his way into the lineup.

"It's tough," Crawford said. "Of course I felt like I should be out there, but I still need to work hard. He has a way and his way works. We all have to buy in."

Sophomore forward Mark Coury cracked Gillispie's first starting lineup and needed less than 90 seconds to match his career high of four points as Kentucky got off to an 8-0 lead. Coury used a combination of jumpers and layups to account for 10 of Kentucky's first 12 points.

Coury finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

"I obviously like Coach Gillispie's style, the way he preaches hard work and hustle," Coury said.

The Bears missed their first nine shots, including five from 3-point range, and didn't score until junior center Landrell Brewer hit two free throws more than five minutes in.

Central Arkansas's shooting fortunes didn't improve much as Kentucky held the Bears to 12 points in the paint compared to 38 for the Wildcats.

"There's no question we were forced out of our offense," Central Arkansas coach Rand Chappell said.

Kentucky led 34-20 at halftime despite shooting just 40 percent. The Wildcats picked up the pace in the second half with 56 percent.

It was a relatively quiet debut for freshman forward Patrick Patterson, a blue chip recruit from West Virginia who averaged 19 points in Kentucky's two exhibition games. Patterson started but had as many fouls (four) as points.

More impressive Tuesday was the other highly touted freshman, guard Alex Legion, who had six points and showed off his skills on one play with a steal that set up his fastbreak layup.

Durrell Nevels led Central Arkansas (0-1) with 10 points.

Gillispie, criticized by some fans after the team's first exhibition game for wearing a gray suit and yellow tie but no Kentucky blue, was more appropriately attired this time. He wore a dark blue shirt, with a silver tie and charcoal suit.

The new coach, who led Texas A&M to last year's round of 16 before replacing Smith at Division I's all-time winningest program, was hardly an idle spectator in his debut. He knelt from the corner of the bench and often paced up to the edge of the coaching box to shout commands to his players.

When sophomore guard Jodie Meeks fouled a 3-point shooter, Gillispie was floored.

"My teams do that once in a year," Gillispie said.

After point guard Ramel Bradley was called for a technical foul early in the second half to give him four personals in the game, Gillispie spent nearly an entire timeout screaming at the referee. The fans, slow to notice the coach's tirade, roared approval when they finally did.

Later, Gillispie scolded Bradley for "overreacting."

"That's what the coach is for, to let us know the things we're not doing, the things that we need to improve on," Bradley said. "As a team, we have to always listen if we want to get better."

Gillispie also made substitutions on virtually every dead ball, often bringing in players for just one offensive or defensive play.

The winner of the four-team Lexington regional of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer advances to the semifinals on Nov. 15
at Madison Square Garden in New York. No. 3 Memphis, Oklahoma and
Connecticut are hosting regionals.

Gillispie said Gardner-Webb presents a formidable challenge Wednesday. He said Kentucky's fans deserve a better effort than the
team showed against Central Arkansas.

"I want to honor this tradition, this state and this university better than we have so far," he said.

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

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