Kentucky exacts revenge, eliminates C-USA's UAB

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- This year, it's Kentucky's turn to stick

around the NCAA Tournament and send UAB to an early ride home.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats earned a small dose of revenge for

two of their most torturous tourney losses of the past 25 years,

getting a career-high 25 points from Bobby Perry to beat UAB 69-64

on Friday night.

"We're just elated to get this win and we're moving on,"

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.

Perry scored 19 of his points in the second half, nine straight

early in the half, and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts.

Perry had little help offensively, with no other Wildcats player in

double figures. But they needed little more with Perry having the

game of his career.

"I think we came out focused even though we didn't play the

best game," Perry said.

Kentucky (22-12) will play top-seeded Connecticut (28-3) Sunday

in the second round of the Washington Regional. It'll be the first

meeting of the two college basketball superpowers.

"I don't know how through all the years our paths have not

crossed," Smith said.

Two years ago, the ninth-seeded Blazers stunned the No. 1

Wildcats 76-75 in the second round of the St. Louis Regional and

advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1982. UAB also

beat Kentucky in the second round of the 1981 tournament -- a nice

chunk of its nine career tourney win total.

Paul Delaney led UAB (24-7) with 13 points. Marvett McDonald

added 10 points, and Squeaky Johnson had seven assists. Kentucky

only turned the ball over eight times against a Blazers defense

that forced 21.2 a game this season.

"We couldn't get them to go up and down as much as we wanted,"

Johnson said. "The key was to get turnovers and we weren't able to

do that."

Neither team could build much of a lead. With Kentucky seemingly

safe in the final minute, McDonald hit a 3-pointer with 19.2

seconds left to make it 67-64.

Rajon Rondo, a 57 percent free-throw shooter, missed one of two

free throws. McDonald fired away from the top of the 3-point arc

and missed. The Wildcats grabbed the rebound -- a huge difference in

this one as they had a 47-38 edge on the boards -- and finally the

game was theirs. Rondo had 10 rebounds for Kentucky.

"We ran out of time and that's my fault," UAB coach Mike

Anderson said. "I'll take the blame for this loss. I told them

I've lost seven games this year, they've won 24."

The other eye-popping number came at the line. Led by Perry's

perfect effort, Kentucky went 26-for-30. UAB only 9-for-17. Both

teams were awful from 3-point range also, with each making only

five and Kentucky (25) taking one more attempt.

"If we make shots and free throws, it's a different game,"

Anderson said.

The win made the Wildcats 3-0 in Philadelphia -- yup, the

similarly nicknamed Arizona and Villanova also won its first-round


"It wasn't a pretty game, but it's not about how pretty you

look, it's about surviving and winning," forward Randolph Morris


Playing across the street from the Spectrum, where Kentucky lost

perhaps the greatest college basketball game ever played to Duke in

the 1992 regional final, the Wildcats trailed by three at halftime

and fretted over making another early trip back to their old

Kentucky home.

Perry got rolling early, though. His ninth straight point gave

the Wildcats a 41-37 lead. He snapped a tie game with a 3-pointer

to make it 50-47, then hit another that made it 61-56 with 5:23


"We needed a leader to step up, and he stepped up big for us,"

Rondo said.

The five-point cushion was exactly what the Wildcats needed to

hold on an advance to the second round.