Can the 'Cats avoid looking past IU?

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith was pretty blunt in his assessment of the Wildcats following their initial loss of the season, a 91-78 setback at North Carolina.

"I talked about being tested today and we failed this test," Smith said after the game.

"A lot it has to do with UNC. North Carolina played their game. We allowed them to control the tempo from the start. The biggest thing we concentrated on was transition defense, and we were very poor at that all day long giving up lay-ups after lay-ups."

Smith was particularly perturbed by the rebounding totals that showed North Carolina with a 51-30 margin.

"I don't think I've ever had a team get out-rebounded by 21," he said.

On the plus side, the Wildcats responded during following practices and came out to handle Morehead State by 31 points in their next outing.

Still, the Wildcats have some things to work on.

"I'd like to see us shoot the ball better," Smith said.

The Wildcats have only four non-conference games remaining -- Indiana on Saturday at Louisville's Freedom Hall, at Louisville on Dec. 18, William & Mary Dec. 22 and Campbell College Dec. 29 -- before starting SEC play Jan. 5 at home against South Carolina.

NOTES, QUOTES
North Carolina out-rebounded Kentucky 51-30 in handing the Wildcats their first loss 91-78. A trio of Wildcats -- Kelenna Azubuike, Chuck Hayes and Randolph Morris -- had six rebounds each, but that was one short of the 19 UNC's Sean May had by himself.

-- The Wildcats weren't very hospitable to one of their distinguished alumni on Dec. 8, beating up on Morehead State71-40. Morehead is coached by former UK great Kyle Macy.

-- Kentucky was only 8-for-16 on free throws against North Carolina. For the season the Wildcats are hitting 68.3 percent (99-of-145) from the stripe.

PROBABLE LINEUP: Point guard Rajon Rondo, shooting guard Patrick Sparks, center Randolph Morris, forward Kelenna Azubuike, forward Chuck Hayes.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You always believe that you're never as bad as you look and never as good as you think you are either. It's something we have to go back home and evaluate." -- Coach Tubby Smith, after the loss to North Carolina

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Indiana, Saturday, Dec. 11; at Louisville, Saturday, Dec. 18; vs. William & Mary, Wednesday, Dec. 22.

KEYS: Coach Tubby Smith felt the Tar Heels exposed Kentucky's weaknesses in transition defense and rebounding. The Wildcats did win the rebounding battle against Morehead State 47-36 and should have the advantage against Indiana when the two teams meet Saturday in Louisville. The Hoosiers were out-rebounded by 10 in their loss to Notre Dame.

ROSTER REPORT: Kelenna Azubuike scored a game-high 21 points against Morehead State and had five rebounds to go with the 24 points and six rebounds he had in the loss to North Carolina.

-- Senior Chuck Hayes had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Morehead State.


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