Gardner-Webb Shocks Kentucky At Rupp, 84 - 68

By JEFFREY McMURRAY
Associated Press Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's players will get plenty of time to think about their first loss in the Billy Gillispie era.

The No. 20 Wildcats were expected to be headed to New York next week for the semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. Instead, Gardner-Webb is taking their place after an 84-68 shocker Wednesday night.

After the Wildcats played their first two games under Gillispie in two days, they'll get two weeks of practice time before facing Liberty in game No. 3.

"It was a great exhibition of basketball by Gardner-Webb," Gillispie said. "They just came into our place and I thought they whipped us in every phase of the game. The box score was not indicative of how bad they beat us."

It was pretty bad, though.

One night after holding Central Arkansas to 20 percent shooting - the Wildcats' best defensive performance since 1995 - Gardner-Webb burned Kentucky for 53 percent.

Coach Rick Scruggs said his team may have been better prepared for the 23,000 fans that packed Rupp Arena after playing in front of a sparse crowd Tuesday night against Alabama A&M in the tournament's opening round.

"We could get used to the surroundings and then see last night how loud and boisterous it gets," Scruggs said. "These are the greatest fans in the country. It is a dream of mine to come here and have the chance to play Kentucky."

Kentucky, Division I's winningest program, hadn't lost a regular-season game to a mid-major since falling to Western Kentucky on Nov. 15, 2001, in that season's opener. It lost to Alabama-Birmingham in 2004 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Kentucky's last home loss to an unranked nonconference foe was Dec. 3, 2005, against North Carolina.

"It's embarrassing when you lose, especially when it happens at home," Kentucky forward Perry Stevenson said. "We've just got to keep working hard and make sure it doesn't happen again."

The tournament, benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, had been set up to send four top programs - No. 3 Memphis, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Kentucky - to New York next week to play in the semifinals.

However, instead of the Wildcats, Gardner-Webb, which finished 9-21 last season and tied for seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference, will play the winner of Thursday night's game between Buffalo and Connecticut.

"We had confidence," Gardner-Webb forward Thomas Sanders said. "We wanted to play four minutes at a time and go timeout to timeout and give ourselves a chance to win in the final minutes. We ended up not needing to do that, though."

As it turned out, the Wildcats never had control of this game, trailing 14-0 just 4 minutes in, missing their first four shots and turning the ball over four times during that span.

Grayson Flittner led the way with 22 points and hit a critical 3 midway through the first half that opened the Bulldogs' lead to 26-10.

Kentucky cut the deficit to seven less than 3 minutes later on a long jumper by Joe Crawford, but would get no closer.

Crawford, a senior guard and regular starter last year, didn't crack the starting lineup for the second straight game under Gillispie despite leading the team with 20 points Tuesday against Central Arkansas.

Gardner-Webb led 38-27 at halftime, and Sanders began the second half with a three-point play to put the Wildcats deeper into a hole.

Gillispie opened his tenure as Kentucky coach Tuesday night with a 67-40 victory over Central Arkansas. The former Texas A&M coach took over the Wildcats after Tubby Smith left for Minnesota.

Gillispie was far more animated Tuesday night. Against Gardner-Webb, he just knelt on the sideline and shook his head. Afterward, he walked down the sideline to shake hands with each of the opposing players.

Although the Rupp Arena fans mildly applauded their support whenthe final horn sounded, the boo-birds came out early when the game appeared to be slipping away.

Among the lone bright spots for Kentucky were its two heralded freshmen, power forward Patrick Patterson and guard Alex Legion.

Legion tried to single-handedly carry the Wildcats midway through the second half, hitting three 3-pointers and making a key steal in just over 2 minutes.

Patterson had 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, including 10 in the first half that accounted for half the Wildcats' total.

"They came to play," Patterson said of Gardner-Webb. "Obviously we didn't."

Ramel Bradley led all scorers by tying a career high with 24 points and going 14-for-14 from the foul line.

But every time Kentucky made a basket, the Bulldogs seemed to make a bigger one.

"We just got our tails whipped," Gillispie said.

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


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  • by SPIKE LEE OF KY.BB Location: LEX.KY. on Nov 12, 2007 at 11:16 AM
    UPON FURTHER REVIEW.IT'S NOT ABOUT ME,IT'S ABOUT WHERE KY.BB IS AT TODAY AND THE DIRECTION IT'S HEADING.I HOPE THOSE WHO HAVE READ MY COMMENTS,KNOW THAT I'M USING A NAME THAT I THOUGHT WOULD BE FITTING AS FORMER PLAYER BB PLAYER IN THE SEC.THE LAKERS AND KNICKS HAVE THEIR MOVIE STAR FANS THAT FOLLOW THEIR TEAM.SINCE RESIDING IN LEX.SINCE 1990,I ONLY BECAME A KY.FAN BECAUSE OF PITINO,WHO'S FROM MY NECK OF THE WOODS.TO HAVE PLAYED AGAINST KY,KNOWING HOW HARSH FANS CAN BE HERE,I CHOSE TO SUPPORT PITINO.THEN CAME TUBBY.TRUST ME I HATED KY.DURING MY PLAYING DAYS.I RECALL BEATING KY.IN MEMORIAL AS A FRESHMAN WHEN FANS THREW THINGS AT US,THEN JOE B WAS YOUR COACH WITH ROBEY,GIVENS,ETC.ABOUT MY CREDENTIALS,I PLAYED AGAINST THE GEN.,THE LAST UNDEFEATED TEAM AS A FRESHMAN AND WAS THE LEADING SCORER IN THAT GAME.THAT TEAM WAS STACKED.RECRUITED BY VITALE WHEN HE WAS COACHING.MY POINT IF THERE'S ANYTHING I KNOW ,I KNOW ABOUT BB.IT'S NOT ABOUT ME,BUT FELT COMPELLED TO RESPOND.THE SEC WAS TOUGH THEN.
  • by Davey Location: KY on Nov 12, 2007 at 07:25 AM
    I'm still wondering for whom, where and what years SPIKE LEE played in the SEC. He pretends to know so much but hasn't shown the credentials.
  • by Rob Location: London on Nov 12, 2007 at 07:23 AM
    The problem is the same problem that has been at Ky.The players are coming here because they know it is a one-way street to the NBA.These guys didn't play witth any heart at all.They haven't for years.They need to be recruited knowing they are playing for a hostile crowd and want to win every game.They played like they were on the playground afraid to get hurt.Gardner-Webvb played harder and with tons more heart.Open your eyes boys....its time to steo up or move on and let someone that wants to play with KENTUCKY on their jersey!!!!!
  • by NO UK 4 ME Location: Kentucky on Nov 12, 2007 at 06:07 AM
    All I want to say is you treat a good coach like Tubby badly and this is what you get. Check out this headline from Minnesota: "Gophers Rip Army 84-52 To Open The Tubby Smith Era." Nothing against Billy, but Tubby was a darn good coach and the fans treated him horribly. Glad I'm NOT a UK fan. Go Gophers!!!!
  • by Ricky P Location: Lousyville on Nov 12, 2007 at 05:14 AM
    Agree with Casey, except that it's not all a big head issue. The senior leadership on this team is non-existent. Bradley still wants to do it all himself so he looks good for the NBA draft. Crawford got beat by the same backdoor cut repeatedly. They've got the talent and the potential to do something special with this season now that they have a solid, but young, supporting cast. Youth needs leadership, and these two should be stepping up to show them the way. Instead, we're seeing selfish play, stupid technicals, and ho-hum defense while the "kids" are diving for balls and playing hard. That's exactly opposite from how the seniors should be behaving on the court. As an aside, it also didn't help UK's cause that they couldn't have hit water if they fell out of a canoe Wednesday night.
  • by jason Location: harlan county on Nov 11, 2007 at 07:26 PM
    You know thats what i love about ky fans when we are winning there is nothing like the players or the coaches but the first game we lost its like the hell with it all fire all the coaches and get rid of the players now granted that was not the best game in the world but lets not forget ky was not the only top team to get beat anybody for the national champion runner ups getting beat how about michigan st getting beat it doesnt matter how good you think you are or how good you are if you dont show up to play you will lose and we didnt show up the other night but for you guys who already bashing billy g im keeping record so when we win a national championship i can see who all decided to ride on the ky band wagon once again cause lets face it ky has the best and the worst fans in college sports now dont get me wrong we have the few who will stick by whether we win or lose but for the most like i said earlier if we are winning there is nothing like us but when we are losing its different
  • by sean Location: morehead on Nov 10, 2007 at 05:18 PM
    I didnt get to watch the game, but its only one loss. Give the players time to adjust, billy is working them hard to get them in shape, I believe he is looking at the big picture. It seams like Billy know his stuff, But like I said I didnt watch that game.
  • by Casey Location: Lex on Nov 9, 2007 at 08:45 AM
    Don't put the blame on Billy G. I think some if not all of the players have the big head and they need to come down off their high horse and get the job done.
  • by Anonymous Location: KNOTT COUNTY on Nov 9, 2007 at 08:35 AM
    YOU KNOW ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY, NEITHER IS A BASKETBALL TEAM. THE TEAM IS HAVING TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY A NEW STYLE OF BALL, SO THEY NEED TIME TO ADJUST. JUST THINK THEY WILL HAVE TWO WEEKS TO PRACTICE AND GET READY FOR THE UP COMING GAMES. I HAVE FAITH THAT BILLY G IS STILL AN ANSWERED PRAY FOR KENTUCKY.
  • by Heather Location: Big Blue Nation on Nov 9, 2007 at 08:26 AM
    Amen Angela and Davey - GO CATS and THANK GOODNESS Tubby is GONE! Now, for all you people who are freaking out - remember when Pitino first came and we lost a bunch of games to "small" teams?? No one remembers that, do you? Hang in there, people. Alot of people said all these same things, nearly, about Coach Brooks-now look at them! Don't be a fair-weather fan, give Billy G a chance people!
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