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Depth, defense bode well for Kentucky


Feb. 22, 2005
Wow, I had a great time at Rupp Arena over the weekend! The fans were incredible when Kentucky hosted Mississippi State — especially when I was on air with ESPN colleagues Chris Fowler, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas. I could hardly hear the questions on College GameDay because the crowd was so loud.

Tubby Smith
Tubby Smith
Kentucky fans had plenty to cheer about as the Wildcats rolled over the Bulldogs 94-78 on Saturday night.

Tubby Smith has done a great coaching job this season. Remember, he has started a pair of freshmen — Rajon Rondo and Randolph Morris — all season long. Transfer Patrick Sparks has been a new starter, too.

Tubby has utilized his great depth to his advantage. It helps to have 10 players averaging double figures in minutes — talk about fresh legs on the court! He also has had stability: He's been able to use the same starting lineup in every game this season.

UK fans display such passion. They are very knowledgeable and always come out and support their team, at home and on the road. There was a sea of blue and white at Rupp and it was a pleasure to witness.

This edition of Kentucky basketball plays outstanding defense, and it was stifling against coach Rick Stansbury's squad. Rondo tied a school record with eight steals. The diaper dandy does a super job of anticipating passes.

Morris really wanted the ball inside and stepped up with a big game. Veterans such as Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azubuike led the Wildcats back after a disappointing 73-61 loss at South Carolina earlier last week, their only SEC loss (20-3, 11-1 SEC).

To me, Tubby Smith should be SEC Coach of the Year for the job he has done. Kentucky will be a dangerous club come tournament time because of its defense.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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