Cats nip UT in OT

Ninth-ranked Kentucky hit just 3 of 24 shots from 3-point range Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena but Cliff Hawkins drained a game-tying trey with 16 seconds left in regulation and the Wildcats went on to nip Tennessee 69-68 in overtime.

The Vols had two chances to win in the final seconds of OT but Scooter McFadgon -- who led all scorers with 33 points -- had the ball tipped out of his hands and out of bounds as he drove for the basket with 8 seconds left. Dane Bradshaw got the ensuing inbounds pass but his driving 8-footer missed, and Kentucky rebounded to seal the victory.

Two C.J. Watson free throws had given Tennessee a 64-61 lead with 22.2 seconds left in regulation. UT head man Buzz Peterson then gave his team some unusual instruction during Kentucky's timeout.

''I told our guys to foul but they didn't do it,'' he said. ''I guess that's something we need to work on in practice. You just don't do it that much ... (say) 'Go foul somebody.' ''

After Hawkins came off a quick screen and hit the 3 that tied the score, a potential game-winning baseline jumper by McFadgon came up short at the buzzer.

McFadgon nailed the identical shot to give UT a 66-64 lead seconds into overtime but Daniels hit a 3 to give the Cats a lead they would not relinquish.

Tennessee shot a frigid 30.9 percent from the field. Discounting McFadgon, who was 8 of 17 from the floor, UT's other guards -- Watson (1 for 7), Bradshaw (0 for 5), John Winchester (0 for 5) and Stanley Asumnu (0 for 1) were a combined 1 of 18. Brandon Crump, UT's 6-foot-10 center, was generally unable to exploit his height advantage over the smallish UK frontline. He made just 5 of 11 shots from the floor and 4 of 9 from the foul line. Still, he finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Kentucky was only slightly sharper offensively. Star guard Gerald Fitch was 1 of 13, and the Cats hit a mediocre 40.7 percent as a team. Erik Daniels scored 19 points to pace the Cats, now 12-2 overall and 3-1 in SEC play. Chuck Hayes chipped in 18 points and 16 rebounds. UK won the backboard battle 47-35.

Tennessee, now 10-4 overall and 2-3 in league play, returns to action Sunday night, hosting Louisville.

Tennessee trailed 38-22 at one point late in the first half and had Watson on the bench with three fouls. Watson picked up his fourth foul with UT down 49-39 but the Vols rallied behind freshmen Major Wingate and Bradshaw to get back in the game.

Peterson said Wingate did ''a fabulous job'' and also praised Bradshaw for the spark he provided. Ultimately, though, the early deficit was a killer.

''When you get so far behind,'' Peterson said, ''it's just so hard to get yourself back.''

The energy the Vols expended getting back in the game probably cost them in overtime. Clearly fatigued, they hit just 1 of 5 shots in the extra period and lost the backboards.

''It's disappointing that we didn't finish with the win,'' Peterson said, ''but I'm happy for our guys to show some grit and fight and get back in the game.''


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