Kentucky uses 18-2 run to thwart UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- There still appears to be a wide gap

between the two winningest programs in college basketball.

Kentucky's Gerald Fitch drives for two of his career-high 25 points on Saturday.
Kentucky's Gerald Fitch drives for two of his career-high 25 points on Saturday.

Gerald Fitch and Marquis Estill scored all of Kentucky's points

during an 18-2 run to start the second half as the 18th-ranked

Wildcats defeated North Carolina 98-81 Saturday.

Kentucky beat the Tar Heels (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) -- two programs that have combined for 3,615 wins -- for the third straight season by 17, 20 and 17


"They have a couple of things we don't have,'' said North

Carolina coach Matt Doherty, who fell to 0-3 against the Wildcats.

"They have talented big guys who can score.''

Fitch finished with a career-high 25 points, while Estill and

Keith Bogans added 20 each for the Wildcats (4-1), who made 10 of

16 from 3-point range to beat the young Tar Heels.

"We take pride in this, especially when you beat North Carolina

in North Carolina -- that's huge,'' said Fitch, who was 7-for-10

from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line.

"In the second half we went down low and they lost their

confidence,'' Fitch added. "When we took the lead they weren't

attacking as much and they weren't as aggressive.''

North Carolina (5-2) lost its second straight since jumping into

the Top 25. The Tar Heels, who won just eight games last season,

lost to Illinois by 27 points on Tuesday night.

"It's better to learn from a win than a loss, but these two

games helped us,'' said freshman Sean May, who had 14 points and 10

rebounds. "We've just got to keep fighting. I can't wait to play

Vermont. It's going to be hard sitting on a loss for 12 days.''

Rashad McCants, who hurt his left ankle in the final seconds,

scored 22 to lead the Tar Heels, who were step for step with the

Wildcats until point guard Raymond Felton and May got into foul


Once that happened, Kentucky pounced on North Carolina's zone,

using the big run over the first four minutes to take control.

Fitch scored 10 points and Estill had eight during the burst.

"We had basic fundamental breakdowns, and we can't accept

that,'' Doherty said. "Yes, we're a young team and all of that,

but we've got to play 40 minutes against teams like Kentucky. We've

got to play 40 minutes -- I don't care who we're playing.''

Estill didn't score in the first 20 minutes, but made four

straight shots out of the gate in the second period, while Fitch

sank two mid-range jumpers and two 3-pointers for a 58-45 lead.

Felton picked up his fourth foul on Estill's last basket of the

run, and he missed 5½ minutes as North Carolina's defense fell


The Tar Heels pulled within eight on two straight 3-pointers by

Jackie Manuel, but Bogans countered with two shots behind the arc

and Estill added a layup as the Wildcats went up by 18 with 9:38


"Keith has matured a lot,'' coach Tubby Smith said of his

senior guard. "He showed some All-American heart and toughness

today. He got hit in the face, turned his ankle and he pretty much

got beat, but he showed why he's an All-American.''

The Wildcats made 22 of their 33 second-half shots. They started

the second half going 12-for-15, at one point making nine straight

shots to dispatch the upstart Tar Heels.

Fitch's previous career high was 18 points in Kentucky's win

over High Point earlier this week.

"Fitch controlled the whole game,'' Doherty said.

The last time UNC allowed a team to shoot 60 percent was Wake

Forest in 1993.

"We have been bragging about our defense, there has been a lot

of talk about our defense, but we certainly didn't play defense in

this game,'' Doherty said. "Our defense was nonexistent.''

"We wanted to make a statement, but we have to earn it,'' added

Kentucky senior center Jules Camara said. "The way we can earn it

is by going out and playing hard against good teams like this.

Maybe we sent a message to other teams that you've got to take us


North Carolina got off to a shaky start, missing its first six

shots and turning it over three times to fall into an early

eight-point hole.

The Tar Heels tied it at 20 midway through the half and neither

team led by more than three the rest of the period.