ATLANTA (AP) -- After watching his team get the ball inside the
paint only 12 times in a loss to North Carolina last weekend,
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith promised that wouldn't happen again.
The No. 15 Wildcats delivered on Smith's pledge as backup center
Shagari Alleyne scored a career-high 16 points as the Wildcats beat
Georgia State 73-46 on Tuesday night despite playing without
leading scorer Rajon Rondo.
"We finally threw the ball inside," Smith said. "We were
bigger than the Panthers inside. We made a commitment to throw the
Rondo, a sophomore guard and the team leader in the major
offensive categories, was held out with strep throat. He's expected
to return for Kentucky's game at Indiana Saturday.
Kentucky still leaned on its guards for most of its scoring
against the Panthers, but Smith was encouraged to see the breakout
game from Alleyne.
"We were very pleased he was able to play the way he did
tonight," Smith said. "He can be a real force inside because he
is so long."
Without Rondo, who averages 14.7 points and 10 rebounds, Smith
abandoned his normal three-guard lineup and instead found success
with Alleyne. The 7-foot-3 junior, whose previous career high was
three points, was averaging only 8.2 minutes per game and had
scored only seven points all season before taking advantage of the
opportunity against the Panthers.
"I just let the game flow a little bit," Alleyne said. "Coach
just said he wanted us to get as many easy baskets as we can, to
get as close to the basket as we can."
Alleyne did not start the game, but started the second half.
"I have the potential to play like that all the time," Alleyne
"We thought we would see a smaller team, a faster team,"
Georgia State coach Michael Perry said. "The game plan probably
changed for both teams when [Smith] saw the production that he
Joe Crawford, who returned after missing three games with a hip
pointer and a bone bruise on his knee, had 14 points. Ramel Bradley
added 12 for Kentucky (6-2), which led by only six at halftime
before pulling away with a 22-6 run to open the second half.
Patrick Sparks added 10 points -- all in the second half -- for
Freshman Rashad Chase led Georgia State (2-3) with a career-high
Kentucky had two 11-0 runs in the first half after Georgia State
scored the first 11 points. Smith subbed for Alleyene, who had
three baskets and a blocked shot as the Wildcats answered with
their own run.
After Georgia State took a 14-11 lead, a 3-pointer by Bobby
Perry sparked another 11-0 run by Kentucky for a 22-14 lead. The
Wildcats led 30-24 at halftime and pushed the lead to 22 points at
52-30 on a 3-pointer by Ramel Bradley with 10:27 left.
C Lukasz Obrzut made his third start of the season for
Kentucky -- his first since the third game. ... Kentucky was the
first of three Southeastern Conference opponents on Georgia State's
December schedule. The Panthers will play Georgia Saturday at the
Gwinnett Center in Duluth and will play at Alabama on Dec. 17. ...
Kentucky beat Georgia State 77-59 last season in Lexington.