VAUGHT: Don't overlook Bobby Perry

While the 3-point shots Patrick Sparks and Rajon Rondo made deserve to be the talk of Big Blue Land today, don't forget about everything Bobby Perry did to contribute to Kentucky's much-needed 80-78 win over South Carolina Saturday.

Without Perry, it does not matter if Sparks throws in his bomb from the UK campus and Rondo hits a shot he maybe makes one in 100 times. Kentucky would not have been in position where one or two miraculous shots could have won the game if Perry had not played the way he did.

South Carolina wasn't expecting a 13-point performance from Perry. That's why he found himself open on the outside so often and responded by doing 5-for-9 overall from he field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range. Considering he missed his first two shots, those were huge numbers for the Wildcats.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith even went to a four-guard lineup with Perry for part of the second half when he tried to offset South Carolina's quickness -- and it worked.

"When we changed defenses and started switching, we needed players who were versatile and quick like Bobby," Smith said.

Smith said he told Perry to quit worrying about missing shots and not be afraid to shoot outside because of his inside misses. "I told him he might want to try the outside shot because he has missed so many close to the basket," Smith said. "He hit some huge buckets when we were just standing around. Bobby stepped up when there was really no one challenging him. He has been struggling with his shooting, but not in this game."

Struggling? He was 1-for-10 in his last three games going into Saturday's game. Overall, he was shooting just 37 percent from the field and 22 percent from 3-point range.

"We just told him to keep playing and keep shooting," senior Ravi Moss said. "We never lost confidence in him."

Perry had 10 points in a nine-minute span when UK went from trailing 58-46 to leading 68-67 on his 3-pointer. Take away those four shots Perry made and the Cats would have been finished.

"When you knock down shots, you feel better," Perry said. "I never quit believing, but I might have had a few doubts. Today I could tell my teammates had confidence in me. They got me the rock at the right spots. When you know your teammates believe in you, you don't have to think twice before you shoot and that helps."

So was he in a slump considering he had not scored in double figures since November.

"I wouldn't say it was a slump. It just was not a good period. I knew I could still do this. It was just a matter of time, even though I was wondering when that time was finally going to come again," Perry said.

Fortunately for Kentucky, it came just in time to keep alive hopes that the Cats can save this season and climb back into SEC title contention.


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