LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky was hoping to tune up for North
Carolina. A sluggish start Tuesday night instead evoked memories of
The Wildcats (4-1) ultimately survived a closer-than-expected
62-52 victory over winless Stony Brook, but coach Billy Gillispie -
seldom pleased - certainly had cause for concern this time.
The coach had a short list of what Kentucky needs to improve to
defeat the top-ranked Tar Heels, coming to town Saturday.
"Everything," Gillispie said.
On Tuesday night, shooting woes were the early problem. Later, a
porous defense helped Stony Brook claw back into the game.
Gillispie even benched senior guards Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford
in the second half, displeased with their defensive effort.
But unlike the Wildcats' recent upset defeat by Gardner-Webb,
this outing was good enough to beat Stony Brook (0-6). Good enough
to beat the nation's No. 1 team? That's another story.
"We definitely will have to raise our game up," Crawford said.
"We need to pass the ball better, and we can't have 20 turnovers.
That is only hurting ourselves."
As usual, freshman Patrick Patterson provided the spark, scoring
19 points and matching his career-high 12 rebounds. Gillispie said
he should have gotten more opportunities, but Patterson didn't
blame the guards.
"The guards were trying to get us the ball, but we were never
at the right spot at the right time," he said.
Stony Brook trailed by 19 points in the second half but fought
back to cut the lead to 43-37 with less than seven minutes left on
a 3-pointer by Michael Tyree. Perry Stevenson dunked home a missed
shot seconds later, as the Wildcats padded the lead.
At least for one game, Stevenson - a specialist at blocking
shots - provided Kentucky a scorer in the post alongside Patterson.
He recorded his first career double-double with personal bests of
18 points and 10 rebounds.
"I haven't played this well since I got here," Stevenson said.
Both teams were ice-cold out of the gate, combining for just 10
points in the first 10 minutes.
Kentucky misfired on 12 of its first 13 shots in that span,
connecting only on Patterson's put-back of Crawford's missed
3-pointer. Kentucky didn't score again from the field until
Patterson's dunk with 9:32 left in the half narrowed the margin to
The Wildcats took the lead for good at 14-12 four minutes later
on Stevenson's jumper from the free-throw line.
Stony Brook's Mitchell Beauford led all scorers with 20 points.
Kentucky went on an 8-0 run the last two minutes of the first
half and led 26-14 at the break.
But if Kentucky's offense was poor, Stony Brook's was worse. The
Seawolves didn't get their first assist until four minutes into the
second half and finished with just five in the game.
Defensively, the Seawolves were outmatched by the bigger
Wildcats. Seven different Kentucky players blocked shots, compared
with none for Stony Brook.
"Bigger, stronger, tougher and faster was a tough
combination," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "At no
position did we have an advantage size-wise."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)