Fitch's return boosts Big Blue

From Tennessee's perspective at least, Gerald Fitch picked a bad time to return to Kentucky's basketball lineup.

Sidelined by a sprained finger since Feb. 3, Fitch will make his first start since then in Wednesday night's game with the visiting Vols. He tuned up by coming off the bench to score 18 points in last Saturday's win at Auburn. Obviously, the finger is no longer a problem.

Fitch, a 6-3 senior, is UK's leading scorer at 15.5 points per game. He also is the Big Blue's spiritual leader.

''Fitch is back for them, and I think he gives guys like (Kelenna) Azubuike, (Chuck) Hayes, (Cliff) Hawkins and those guys some confidence,'' UT head man Buzz Peterson says. ''They've got experience on the wing. He's a nice outside shooter who can step up and hit big shots for them.

''Defensively, he's really good. He can really get into folks. I think it's a huge boost for them to have him back in the lineup.''

In the earlier meeting in Knoxville, Scooter McFadgon scored 33 points that night -- UT's high for the season -- and the Vols led by three with 22 seconds left in regulation. Hawkins nailed a game-tying 3-pointer six seconds later, however, and the Cats won 69-68 in overtime.

''I've reminded our guys about that,'' Peterson said.


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