Sunday , Mar , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Kentucky seeks upset of top-seeded UConn

=== Kentucky seeks upset of top-seeded UConn ===

(Sports Network) – After avoiding what could have been the most shocking loss
in NCAA Tournament history, the top-seeded Connecticut Huskies will now
face the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in a second-round matchup from
the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. The Huskies needed a 34-9 run late in
their opening bout to slip past the Albany Great Danes by a 72-59 margin.
The Huskies, who are a top seed for the fourth time in school history,
came into this tournament as the second ranked team in the nation. In
UConn’s last seven tournament appearances, the team is a sensational 23-5,
capturing the national title in both 1999 and 2004. The Huskies own a
sensational 28-3 record this year, which includes a 14-2 mark in Big East
play, earning them a share of the regular-season conference crown.

Kentucky posted a hard-fought 69-64 victory over the UAB Blazers in the
first round of the tournament on Friday, giving the Wildcats their 97th
NCAA Tournament victory. UK is playing in its 15th straight NCAA Tournament
and 47th overall. The 97 tournament wins and 47 appearances are both the
most in NCAA history. The ‘Cats are 22-12 on the year, but they struggled
against SEC foes, posting a 9-7 ledger. It is hard to believe, but this is
the first-ever meeting between these two history-rich college basketball
powerhouses.

The Wildcats made it to the “Big Dance” thanks to their play at the defensive
end, as they finished the regular season surrendering just 65.5 ppg, while
allowing the opposition to shoot 42.2 percent from the field. In the first-
round victory over UAB on Friday, Kentucky allowed the Blazers to shoot 43.1
percent from the floor, but that included a terrible 5-of-24 showing from long
range. Surprisingly, UK struggled tremendously at the offensive end, shooting
a mere 31.1 percent from the field, while making just 5-of-25 attempts from
behind the arc. The Wildcats did however, convert 26-of-30 shots from the foul
line, and dominate the glass, 47-38. What is even more amazing is that
Kentucky committed just eight turnovers against UAB, which finished the season
forcing a whopping 21.2 miscues per game.

Bobby Perry was the only player for coach Tubby Smith’s club to reach
double figures, as the forward netted 25 points to go along with seven
rebounds. The team’s top two scorers, Randolph Morris and Rajon Rondo,
combined for only 15 points, as Morris tallied nine points on 2-of-7
shooting from the field, while Rondo scored just eight, but did collect 10
rebounds.

As for the Huskies, they may have beaten Albany by 13 points, but the game was
much closer than the final score would lead you to believe. Despite the close
call, the Huskies shot a sizzling 58.7 percent from the floor, which included
an 8-of-16 showing from long range. UConn did commit 16 turnovers on the
night, but countered their sloppy play by winning the battle on the glass,
28-22. Marcus Williams led the squad with 21 points and eight assists, while
Denham Brown tallied 17 points and Josh Boone chipped in with 13. As for the
team’s leading scorer, Rudy Gay (15.1 ppg), he registered eight points on 4-
of-5 shooting from the court. While they might have had trouble against the
Great Danes, the Huskies still performed at their usual level offensively.

On the season, UConn is averaging 81.0 ppg while shooting 47.1 percent from
the field. Along with Gay, four other players are currently averaging
double figures for Connecticut, as Rashad Anderson is second with 12.8 ppg.
Williams has also been a solid performer for UConn, as the guard is averaging
11.3 ppg to go along with 171 assists. Boone is registering 10.7 ppg and a
team-best 7.1 rpg. As for Brown, he is chipping in 10.6 ppg.

UCONN KENTUCKY