LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - After Kentucky allowed just five baskets
in the second half Saturday, coach Billy Gillispie, never
satisfied, told his players that was four too many.
In his postgame pep talk after the Wildcats' best defensive
showing of the year - an 83-35 victory over Texas Southern - the
new Kentucky coach went through each of the Tigers' second half
baskets and explained how all but one could have been prevented.
"We don't like to give up a basket," Gillispie said. "You
have to take that approach. One basket is going to determine
outcome of a lot of games."
The players weren't complaining about the defensive lecture,
even after Kentucky held an opponent under 40 points for the first
time since keeping Morehead State to 32 points on Dec. 16, 1995.
"He was right," freshman A.J. Stewart said.
The Wildcats (3-1) won for the second straight time since
falling to Gardner-Webb in the second round of the 2K Sports
College Hoops Classic. It was their largest margin of victory since
beating Vanderbilt 106-44 on Mar. 5, 2003.
On a night where the defense made headlines, Joe Crawford made
his first appearance as a starter under Gillispie and provided an
offensive jolt with a career-high 32 points.
Crawford, a senior guard who was a regular starter last year for
Tubby Smith, made a major case that he should get his job back
under his new coach Gillispie.
"He never lets up," Crawford said of Gillispie. "He pushes
everyone to the max. He's not just on me. He's on everyone in a
Crawford matched a career-best with 12 field goals on 17
attempts and provided a spark in the first half from beyond the arc
and a spark in the second from the paint.
Up 6-5 early, the Wildcats scored the next 15 points - 10 of
them from Crawford - to bury the Tigers.
"It looked like he was everywhere," Texas Southern coach
Robert Moreland said of Crawford.
Crawford hit two free throws to begin the streak after drawing a
foul on a fourth-chance shot. Then, 11 seconds later, Crawford
intercepted a pass and cruised alone down the court to finish with
a dunk. He'd add two 3-pointers to pad the lead.
During another span in the second half, Crawford began to
misfire from long-range, so he took the ball to the hoop. He made a
fastbreak layup, then set a career-high with a 3-point play on an
alley-oop from fellow senior Ramel Bradley.
Gillispie has been preaching the virtues of running an offense
from the inside out, and he says it's finally starting to click.
"They're starting understand this stuff can work," he said.
"It makes shots easy, not hard."
Kentucky made 61 percent of its shots (77 percent in the first
half). The Wildcats dominated the much smaller Tigers in the paint
with freshman power forward Patrick Patterson, who had 21 points
and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats made five of their first seven shots from beyond
the arc, and Patterson made his first eight shots from the field,
mixing layups and dunks with finesse jumpers.
Texas Southern (1-4) connected on just 21 percent of its shots
and was overmatched on the boards in the first half, failing to get
its fourth rebound until 15 minutes had passed. Three Wildcats -
Patterson, Crawford and Bradley - had more first half rebounds than
the Tigers' team leader.
David Burrell led the Tigers with 11 points.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)