Cats take fight out of Irish

Leaving the slump behind? Keith Bogans may have Saturday with a 23-point effort against Notre Dame...



Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince fights for rebounding position with Notre Dame's Harold Swanagan (left) and David Graves, both natives of the Bluegrass State starting for the Fighting Irish. (AP - Joe Raymond)

SOUTH BEND, Ind.  --- Keith Bogans isn't ready to declare himself out of a season-long offensive slump, but he appears to be on the right path.

After being held to single-digit scoring in each of the last four games and six of his last eight, Kentucky's junior guard exploded for a 23-point effort Saturday to lead the Wildcats to a 72-65 victory over Notre Dame.

Bogans was 8-for-12 from the field and hit five of his eight attempts from long range. Fifteen of his points came in the first half as Kentucky (12-4, 2-2 SEC) built a 41-35 advantage at the break, and the Cats led the rest of the way.

Bogans had a hunch he was due for a big game when UK arrived at the Joyce Center on Friday for a pregame workout.

"This is a nice arena to play in," he said. "We came in here yesterday to shoot around, and I started knocking shots down as soon as I got in here, so I kinda thought this may be a good shooting place.

"I went to sleep last night hoping my game would come around but I never knew they were going to fall like they did today."

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith delivers instructions from the bench. (AP - Joe Raymond)

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said Bogans' mental approach to the game was what impressed him most.

"I think Keith was more focused and conscious of where he was on the floor," he said. "Keith hasn't played poorly this year, he just hasn't shot the ball well like he did today. This is when we need him to play well, too, right now."

Despite a sold-out and rowdy Notre Dame crowd, the Cats got out of the gates strong thanks to some of its best team 3-point shooting of the season. Bogans knocked down two treys and Gerald Fitch and Erik Daniels each added one as UK took a 14-12 advantage.

The Irish stayed close, though, thanks to the shooting of junior guard Matt Carroll, who hit five straight baskets --- and three treys --- to put his team ahead 18-14. That proved to be Notre Dame's largest lead of the day, however.

Kentucky closed the half by hitting eight of its last 10 field goals, including 3-pointers by Rashaad Carruth and Tayhsaun Prince to take a six-point edge into the locker room.

Notre Dame had a 7-0 run early in the second half to pull within two, but could never get even. The Cats put the game away with a 17-6 run highlighted by six of Marquis Estill's nine points off the bench, a pair of Chuck Hayes baskets and Bogans' fifth 3-pointer.

The Irish cut the margin to six with 2:15 left, but UK sealed the win by hitting nine of 12 free throws.

Kentucky shot a modest 43 percent (26 of 61) from the field, but hit nine of 21 from long range. The Cats had 14 assists and only 10 turnovers.

Bogans was the lone UK player in double figures. Estill and Prince each had nine, while Cliff Hawkins and Carruth had seven apiece.

Notre Dame (12-5, 2-2 Big East) got 18 points from Carroll, but only five points and four shot attempts in the second half after the UK defense made adjustments. The Cats also held Ryan Humphrey to 14 points, six below his season average despite pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. Former Lexington Catholic star David Graves added 12 for the Irish.

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