CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- There still appears to be a wide gap
between the two winningest programs in college basketball.
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
The Tar Heels tied it at 20 midway through the half and neither
team led by more than three the rest of the period.
- Gerald Boudreaux
- Duke Edsall
- Bryan Kersey