No. 20 Bulldogs Drop Maui Invite Battle to No. 15 Kentucky, 80-72
Nov 27, 2002
By JIM O'CONNELL
LAHAINA, Hawaii - Kentucky faced a zone defense for the second straight day and the results were markedly different.
The 15th-ranked Wildcats beat No. 20 Gonzaga 80-72 to finish third in the Maui Invitational on Wednesday, one day after shooting 2-for-22 from 3-point range in a 75-61 loss to Virginia.
"Playing against Virginia helped us identify some things we had to work," Wildcats coach Tubby Smith said. "We did a better job of shot selection and getting the ball inside. We just did a better job than yesterday."
Keith Bogans scored 18 points for the Wildcats (2-1), who went inside to take control against the Bulldogs (2-2), who staged a comeback for a second straight game only to fall short.
Marquis Estill and Jules Camara, Kentucky's big men, scored 15 of the Wildcats' final 26 points as the Wildcats didn't settle for outside shots as they did against Virginia.
"Jules is a good shooter and passer from the high post and Marquis is also and they did a good job with our attention on being focused inside and getting the ball in the right spots," Smith said.
Gerald Fitch had 13 points for Kentucky, 5-for-12 from 3-point range against Gonzaga's 2-3 zone, while Camara had 12, Chuck Hayes 11 and Estill nine.
Blake Stepp had 24 points for Gonzaga, 15 in the first half when he made four of his five 3-pointers. Tony Skinner had all but two of his 17 points on 3s as the Bulldogs went 12-for-27 from beyond the arc.
"They riddled and exploited our zone," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They did a great job of attacking it with the high-low. They did a great job of moving the ball. They were patient and when they do that they are very difficult to beat."
Estill and Camara combined on consecutive high-low plays for layups, and Camara added a layup as part of a 12-0 run that gave Kentucky a 62-49 lead with 7:20 to play.
Gonzaga, which made up all but one point of a 17-point deficit in the final three minutes of a 76-75 semifinal loss to No. 19 Indiana, rallied again. The Bulldogs got within 74-70 with 36 seconds left on a thundering baseline dunk by Ronny Turiaf, but the Wildcats scored the next six points, four by Bogans and two by Camara, to seal it.
"Jules' defense was very effective in the second half and I thought we made some good adjustments as far as matchups went," Smith said. "I thought that was the key part of gaining control of the game somewhat because we did do a good job defensively in the second half."
Stepp said he thought he relaxed in the second half instead of using screens to get open for 3s as he did early.
"In the second half I was forcing shots I shouldn't have been," he said.
Turiaf, who had a career-high 24 points in each of the first two games, finished with 12 on 2-for-11 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"We didn't do anything special on him, just played aggressively," Estill said of defending Turiaf. "We knew he liked to go hard inside and we just tried to play stronger than he did."
Kentucky's other appearance in the Maui Invitational was in Smith's rookie season of 1997-98 when the Wildcats finished third and then went on to win the national championship.
"This tournament is important as far as chemistry and helping you grow as a team," Smith said of the three-day, eight-team event. "Now it's time to relax for the next couple of days and have a little fun."
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