Sims scores 22 but Kentucky falls to Iowa

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rekalin Sims had 22 points for Kentucky but it was not enough, as the Iowa Hawkeyes held off the Wildcats for the 67-63 win. It was Kentucky's first loss of the year. Greg Brunner had 17 points and 12 rebounds, for #18 Iowa on Monday night in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic.

            In a game where the largest lead at any moment is 7 points, more often than not the team with the most experience emerges victorious.

            This rang true in Kansas City on Monday Night in the Guardians Classic semifinals as the 20th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes upset the 8th ranked Kentucky Wildcats 67-63.   The Hawkeyes efforts were anchored in the middle by big man Greg Brunner, who finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds, the majority of which coming from huge effort late in the second half with the outcome on the line.

            There is no doubt that the absence of center Randolph Morris, whose playing eligibility lies in the hands of the NCAA, has the Cats hurting.  The game featured 12 ties and 15 lead changes, but the interior presence of Iowa proved too much to overcome outscoring Kentucky in the paint 32-18.   Kentucky's struggles extended beyond the paint as well, finishing the contest shooting a woeful 33% from the field making only 20-61 field goals.

            Iowa managed to isolate Rajon Rondo defensively. Rondo, who had been averaging a team leading 18 points coming into the contest, was only able to get off 5 shot attempts, finishing the game with 5 points.

            In a game where the shooting was ugly, both Rekalin Sims and Bobby Perry managed to post career highs in scoring.  Sims, who once again torched an opponent with his pleasingly surprising range, hit 4-6 3-point buckets on his way to 22 points and 7 rebounds.  Bobby Perry also surprised with aggressive play, scoring 12 points that included a clutch 3-pointer that tied the game at 61 apiece with 1:08 left to play in the game.

            Though most fans are unhappy with the loss, the Cats have shown signs of improvement in certain areas of concern.  When asked whether there were things he had been disappointed in with this years team thus far, head coach Tubby Smith answered, "Rebounding and foul shooting, I've been harping on that all season.  We still need to improve on it."

            The Cats outrebounded Iowa 45-39, led by Rondo who posted a career-high (and astonishing) 19 rebounds.  Free throw shooting climbed to 67% with Kentucky going 14-21 from the line.

            Even with these improvements, the inexperience of the Cats team proved to be their downfall.  The game had a March-like tempo, and Kentucky was unable to take advantage of key possessions in the final minutes. 

            After the game, Tubby complemented the efforts of Iowa and noted the mistakes of his team.  "We didn't play with the patience, the poise in a game like this needed to win."

            Iowa improves to 3-0 on the season and will play the Texas Longhorns in the championship game of the Guardians Classic on Tuesday night.  Kentucky falls to 2-1 and will face a tough West Virginia team in Tuesday night's consolation game.


Team records and series notes

· Kentucky is now 2-1 overall. Iowa moves to 3-0. This marks the second time in the last four years that UK has started out 2-1. The last time was the 2002-03 season, which saw UK go on a 26-game win streak after an early loss to Virginia in the Maui Invitational.

· The Wildcats are 5-3 all-time against Iowa. This marks Iowa's first win in the series since Dec. 4, 1972 - a 79-66 upset of the 13th-ranked Wildcats in Rupp Arena. UK had previously won three straight in the series.

· Tubby Smith is 1-1 all-time against the Hawkeyes. UK knocked Iowa out of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

Team game notes

· Kentucky's bench outscored Iowa's reserves, 27-15.

· The Wildcats were outscored in the paint, 32-18.

· Kentucky outrebounded Iowa 43-36. The Cats have outrebounded two of their three opponents this year and are 1-1 when winning the battle of the boards.

· The Wildcats shot a season-low 32.8 percent from the floor. It was UK's lowest percentage since a 30.9 percent effort against Kansas on Jan. 9, 2005.

· UK trailed 34-31 at the halftime break. Rekalin Sims had 14 first-half points on 5-of-11 shooting, but the Wildcats shot just 32.2 percent as a team in the opening stanza.

· The Wildcats return to action Tuesday, November 22 for the Guardian's Classic consolation game vs. West Virginia at 7 p.m. CT. No. 2 Texas defeated No. 13 West Virginia, 76-75, in the first semifinal game.

UK individual game notes

· Rajon Rondo finished the game with 19 rebounds, which is believed to be a UK record by a guard. It's the most rebounds by any Wildcat since Jared Prickett pulled down 20 boards against Arkansas on Feb. 9, 1994. Rondo added five points and five assist but was just 1-for-9 from the field.

· Shagari Alleyne earned his first career start against Iowa in his 50th career game.

· Junior college transfer Rekalin Sims made a quick impact in his first Kentucky start, nailing three three-pointers and taking a charge in the first five minutes. He finished with season-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He added seven rebounds.

· Bobby Perry had a career-high 12 points, which came on 3-of-8 field-goal shooting and 5-of-6 free-throw shooting

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