"We played extremely hard," said first-year Marshall coach Ron Jirsa. "I'm not surprised our team can go out and put out a good effort."
The effort wasn't just good. It was solid.
Kentucky shot out to a comfy 47-34 lead at the half, with the 13 point lead acquired mainly in transition beginning at the 11:00 mark. Dawn hit his first four three-pointers to keep Marshall nipping at the Wildcats' heels up to that point, but UK picked the pace up and gradually the lead came with it.
"It was the easy baskets they (UK) got off turnovers that made the difference," Jirsa added.
Marshall guard Ronny Dawn nailed seven three pointers in the 89-76 loss to #9-ranked Kentucky.
UK outrebounded Marshall 26-14 in the first half, but The Herd turned that statistic on its ear in the second half, outrebounding the 'Cats 17-13.
And in the second half, Marshall just wouldn't go away. Threes by both Dawn and Tre' Whitted helped bring Marshall to as close as four points, 64-60, with 10:33 remaining. UK went on a 7-0 run immediately thereafter, and Kelenna Azubuike's steal and dunk with 7:44 to go put UK back out by thirteen, at 77-64.
But Ronny Dawn wasn't finished. Not yet. The guard from nearby Ft. Thomas, Kentucky drained his seventh three -followed by another three from Whitted- to keep the Wilcats on their toes. Marvin Black grabbed a Dawn miss and dunked it on UK with 4:27 left, and Marshall was right back in the game at 82-76.
Kelenna Azubuike's lay-in and steal with 1:30 left of the Marshall inbounds pass helped keep Marshall at bay for good. UK scored the final 7 points of the game, while Marshall didn't score in the final 4:41.
"He's hot, to say the least," summed up Marshall coach Jirsa of Ronny Dawn's stellar seven three-pointers against the Wildcats. "He really rose up to the occasion."
UK was led by Gerald Fitch's 24 points, followed by Azubuike's 16. Five Wildcats scored in double figures.
Marshall was led by Dawn's 23 points, with Marvin Black (16), and Tre' Whitted (10) also scoring in double figures. Black also pulled down 10 rebounds.
UK bumps up to 3-0 overall with the win, and Marshall slides to 1-2 with the loss. The Thundering Herd next plays at Radford on Thursday night in a 7pm contest.