Cats One Win Away From The Big Apple

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Billy Gillispie's debut as Kentucky's coach was a success even if he wasn't particularly pleased with the performance.

The 20th-ranked Wildcats beat Central Arkansas 67-40 on Tuesday night in the opening round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.

It's a quick turnaround as Kentucky plays Gardner-Webb, which beat Alabama A&M 69-55, in the second round on Wednesday night. The winner advances to New York for the semifinals Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden.

"We can't rest on our laurels," Gillispie said. "It's a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week deal. It's not a sometime thing. We're going to have to do all the real tough, blue collar things to be really good."

Gillispie warned that Gardner-Webb knows how to expose a team's weaknesses. Kentucky didn't seem to have many Tuesday, holding the Bears to 20 percent shooting - the Wildcats' best defensive performance since 1995.

Still, Gillispie said that figure was more because of Central Arkansas' poor shooting than Kentucky's defense.

In the only other game involving a ranked team on Tuesday, No. 3 Memphis beat Richmond 80-63.

Senior guard Ramel Bradley said his new coach is demanding, but the players understand that's why he has had success - including resurrecting Texas A&M's program before replacing Tubby Smith at Kentucky.

"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."

Bradley started for Kentucky, but the team's other senior, Joe Crawford, didn't enter until 13 minutes in. Once he did, Crawford provided a spark and scored 20 points.

When asked why Crawford didn't start, Gillispie gave no specific reason.

"Playing hard is a skill," he said. "It's not something you were born with. Whoever earns it gets it. You're on a one-day contract."

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 needed less than 90 seconds to match his career high of four points as Kentucky got off to an 8-0 lead. Coury accounted for 10 of Kentucky's first 12 points and 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.

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.

Durrell Nevels led Central Arkansas (0-1) with 10 points. No. 3 Memphis 80, Richmond 63

Freshman Derrick Rose had 21 points to lead the Tigers in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. He was 6-for-8 for the field and overcame early foul trouble to spark the Tigers (2-0), who found themselves trailing at home with less than 13 minutes to play.

David Gonzalez had 25 points for Richmond (1-1) and was 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

Chris Douglas-Roberts had 19 points and nine rebounds for Memphis, which advanced to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15.

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

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