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Kentucky on a Mission in Triumph over the Flames

November 21, 2007  Lexington, Ky.  RSS
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TeeJay Bannister drives toward the hoop on Wednesday night.

TeeJay Bannister drives toward the hoop on Wednesday night.

The Kentucky Wildcats had two weeks to mull over their 84-68 loss to Gardner-Webb in the 2K College Sports Classic. The time off worked against the Flames, as Liberty fell, 80-54, to Kentucky in its first game since the setback, Wednesday night, inside the famed Rupp Arena.

The loss dropped Liberty to 2-4 on the year, breaking the Flames' two-game winning streak. The victory moved Kentucky to 2-1 on the season.

With the bad taste of its last contest against Gardner-Webb still in its mouth, Kentucky wasted no time getting started, opening the contest on a 12-2 run. The burst was finished off by Ramel Bradley's second three-point bucket at the 14:55 mark.

The Flames stopped the run when Rell Porter put back an Alex McLean miss at 13:25, cutting the score, 12-4. The Wildcats then pushed the lead to 14 when Patrick Patterson took an Alex Legion pass and dunked it home, extending the score to 18-4 with 11:04 remaining.

Liberty got things going with a little spurt of its own, cutting the lead down to eight, 20-12, with 6:58 remaining. The Flames received two free throws from Russell Monroe, another from TeeJay Bannister and McLean, followed by buckets from Anthony Smith and McLean during the scoring span.

Liberty continued to trim the margin, getting it to seven, 24-17, after a Porter three-point bucket, followed by a McLean lay up at 3:27.

But that would be as close as the Flames would get. Kentucky closed out the half on a 12-4 run, capped by a Joe Crawford three-point bucket with 34 seconds left in the first stanza, taking a 36-21 lead into the break.

The Flames struggled from the field in the opening period, hitting only 25 percent of their attempts on 8-of-32 shooting. Liberty nearly was shut out from behind the arc, hitting only 1-of-15 from long range (6.7 percent).

Kentucky was hot, hitting 55.6 percent of its shots on 15-of-27 shooting. The Wildcats hit 50 percent on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range.

The Wildcats came out of the intermission gunning, quickly extending their lead to 17 when Patterson hit two free throws at 17:20, pushing the score to 42-25.

Liberty made a move, cutting the score down to 13, 43-30, courtesy of a Smith three-point bucket at 15:18. But, the Flames went cold from the field from there, as Kentucky spun off a 23-7 run, finished off by a Patterson lay-up at 7:50, extending the score to 66-37.

Kentucky relatively maintained its lead, as the Flames held a slight 17-14 advantage over the remaining 7:50 in the contest.

The Flames shot a little better from the floor in the second period, hitting 44 percent of their shots. Liberty finished the game at 33.3 percent on 19-of-57 shooting.

Kentucky was just as hot in the second half, hitting 53 percent of its attempts, finishing at 54.7 percent for the game on 29-of-53 shooting.

The Flames were led by McLean's 15 points and five rebounds. Smith chipped in 10 points, while B.J. Jenkins scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds. Porter added eight points and grabbed five of the Flames' 15 offensive rebounds.

Patterson paced the Wildcats with 23 points, 17 of which he tallied in the second period from a myriad of angles. Patterson chipped in 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. A.J. Stewart and Bradley each added 10 points in the win.

Liberty returns to action on Tuesday when the Longwood Lancers enter the Vines Center. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Ritchie McKay's Quotes
"I was really impressed with the way Kentucky played. We anticipated them coming out playing hard, being prepared and playing together. I am very impressed with their team. Kentucky received criticism and national media attention for losing to Gardner-Webb, who in the coaching fraternity everyone knows is a really good team. Gardner-Webb is a good team because of its experience. Billy [Gillispie] has a really young team. I think there might have been some overreaction as Kentucky Basketball is in great shape. Kentucky is going to continue to uphold its tradition, and I am sorry it came at out expense."