Wednesday , Jan , 14 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Daniels’ layup gives Kentucky last-second win

=== Daniels’ layup gives Kentucky last-second win ===

Starkville, MS (Sports Network) – Erik Daniels scored the winning bucket on a
layup as time expired to lift fifth-ranked Kentucky to a 67-66 victory over
20th-ranked and previously undefeated Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Wildcats (11-1, 2-0 SEC) blew all of an 18-point lead and fell behind late
in the contest, but Daniels’ basket gave Kentucky its 21st straight conference

Timmy Bowers and Winsome Frazier each missed the front end of a one-and-one
with Mississippi State ahead 66-65 in the closing seconds. The Wildcats then
tried to set up for the go-ahead basket, but Lawrence Roberts tipped the ball
away and a tie-up resulted in alternate possession for Kentucky with 2.9
seconds remaining.

Cliff Hawkins made a pass from the sideline toward the basket and Roberts got
a hand on it for the Bulldogs. The ball went directly to Daniels in the lane
and he laid a shot off the glass and in for the winning points.

“I got lucky,” said Daniels. “I saw the ball the whole time it was in the air.
I’m always looking for the easy baskets.”

Daniels finished with 16 points and Gerald Fitch poured in 23 for Kentucky,
which won its fourth straight. It was also the Wildcats’ second consecutive
victory over an undefeated team, as they knocked off Vanderbilt on Saturday.

“Sometimes I’d rather be lucky than good,” said Kentucky head coach Tubby
Smith, who earned his 299th career win. “But you have to be good enough to put
yourself in position to get those breaks.”

Bowers scored 20 points for Mississippi State (13-1, 2-1), which also had a
14-game home winning streak stopped. Roberts finished with 15 points and 14
rebounds in defeat.

The Bulldogs trailed 37-28 at halftime and quickly fell behind by 14, as
Kentucky opened the second half with a 7-2 run to build a 44-30 cushion.

Two free throws by Fitch with 13:33 remaining gave the Wildcats a commanding
51-35 advantage, but Mississippi State clawed back.

A 16-5 run pulled the Bulldogs within 56-51. Bowers canned three shots from
beyond the arc to highlight the burst.

The Wildcats opened a nine-point lead moments later at 63-54, but again the
Bulldogs rallied. Bowers started it with a three-pointer, Roberts scored
inside and Frazier put back a Bowers miss to pull Mississippi State within
63-61 with 2:31 remaining.

Frazier then came up with a steal and was fouled. He hit the first free throw,
but missed the second and Roberts scored off the rebound to put the Bulldogs
in front for the first time at 64-63 with 1:54 to play.

Kelenna Azubuike then hit a jumper to restore Kentucky’s lead, but a tip-in by
Branden Vincent off a missed three by Bowers again gave Mississippi State the
lead with a minute left.

Roberts followed with a steal for the Bulldogs, but Frazier missed the front
end of a one-and-one. The rebound went to Mississippi State and Bowers also
failed to convert the first of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left, setting up
the final frenetic moments.

“We should have made the free throws and we would have had the game locked
up,” Frazier said.

Mississippi State finished just 9-of-13 from the line.

Kentucky raced out to a 12-2 lead just over five minutes into the contest, but
Mississippi State scored the next seven points to pull within three.

The Bulldogs trailed just 17-15 midway through the opening half, but the
Wildcats reeled off the next 16 points. Fitch hit a pair of three-pointers to
key the surge and Chuck Hayes drained a free throw to cap it for a 33-15 lead
with 5:23 remaining before the break.

Mississippi State scored the final eight points of the half to trim its
deficit to 37-28. Gary Ervin scored all of his 11 points in the opening half
for the Bulldogs.