<
>

Wildcats' key to advancing: shutting down Utes' big man

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Andrew Bogut cussed at himself, punched the
air and crinkled his nose. None of it could get him going.

Stymied by a pair of 7-foot backups and pestered by smaller
guys, Utah's All-America center had his worst game of the season
and the Kentucky Wildcats shot a season-best 62 percent in beating
the Utes 62-52 Friday night in an Austin Regional semifinal.

"They banged me around," said Bogut, who missed eight of his
first 10 shots, more than he missed in the first two rounds
combined. "It wasn't my day shooting the basketball."

The Wildcats (28-5) are headed to the regional finals for the
second time in three years, and they'll certainly be fresh when
they play Michigan State on Sunday. Showing off their superb depth,
no player went more than 27 minutes.

It's also pretty impressive that their most pivotal defenders
were 7-foot-3 Shagari Alleyne and 7-foot Lukasz Obrzut, a duo that
coach Tubby Smith didn't turn to in a total of 11 games this
season.

They were forced into action this time when starting center
Randolph Morris got his second foul just 90 seconds in. They ended
up doing such a good job of staying between Bogut and the basket,
with teammates helping making life miserable when he did get the
ball, that the Utes (29-6) were playing catch-up once the game was
5 minutes old.

"We needed them," Smith said. "They were fired up, looking
forward to it."

Bogut finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn't as
good as it sounded. He made just 8 of 19 shots -- matching the most
misses of his career -- and went a career-worst 4-of-11 from the
line, opening with two misses and seeing another rim out when he
could've put Utah within two with 12:28 left.

While he shot better in the second half, his rebounding fell
off. And, unlike the previous game when he offset 10 points with a
career-high seven assists, he didn't have any this time.

"It was a great advantage having three 7-footers who can run
the floor, defend and block shots," said Alleyne, who blocked the
first shot Bogut tried against him and appeared to bother Bogut the
most with his massive wingspan. "I'm 7-3. I'm not going to be
intimidated by a guy who's 7-foot."

The disappointment goes deep for Bogut. The sophomore is widely
expected to turn pro, so this probably was his last college game --
and it was his first with his mom, Anne, in the stands. She arrived
from Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday and waved a small Aussie
flag, the green and gold standing out amid the red across the Utah
section.

Bogut declined to say whether he's decided about going to the
NBA, but coach Ray Giacoletti said he'd tell him to if he'll be a
top-three pick, which is likely.

"Bogut is definitely gone, you can see it in his eyes,"
teammate Bryant Markson said. "He's pretty upset with this game."

Marc Jackson added 10 points for the Utes. They hurt themselves
by going 14-of-28 from the line, which Giacoletti said was his
fault for having worn out his players. Lacking Kentucky's depth, he
relied mostly on his starters all three games in the tournament.

Smith's game plan was to let his big men go at Bogut alone and
force him to catch the ball far from the basket. Once Bogut got the
ball, another defender or two rushed over to prevent him for
getting to his favorite spots. Many of his early misses looked like
flicks he hoped might bounce in.

He tried firing himself up with a mouthful of expletives
directed at himself following his easiest shot, a dunk when
Alleyne's long legs got stuck in traffic. There were other gestures
and even a double technical foul along with Kentucky's Ramel
Bradley after exchanging words following a foul.

Yet nothing could get him going.

"It was pretty simple -- we just wanted to wear him down and
trap him whenever we could," Orbzut said. "I thought we did
pretty good."

Chuck Hayes led Kentucky with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and
Rojon Rondo was 4-of-5 for 10 points. Kelenna Azubuike had nine and
his 2-for-5 performance seemed stone cold compared to his
teammates. The Wildcats missed just 15 shots and nine of those were
3-pointers.

The Utes -- whose title hopes have now been ended by Kentucky six
times since 1993 -- actually started strong. They were up 9-8 when
Kentucky took over, going on a 13-2 run and holding Utah without a
field goal for more than eight minutes.

The Wildcats led by only five at halftime, then stretched it to
10 early in the second half. They only had to hold off one run -- a
9-2 spurt that could've gotten Utah within two had Bogut made a
free throw to cap a three-point play.

Instead, Azubuike hit an 8-foot jumper to get the lead back to
five and the Wildcats weren't threatened again.

Game notes
Kentucky's victory gives the Bluegrass state two of the
eight teams remaining in the field. Louisville plays West Virginia
on Saturday for a trip to St. Louis. The neighbors couldn't meet
until the title game. ... Kentucky's lone negative was foul
shooting. The Wildcats didn't take their first until 3:01 before
halftime and went 10-of-19. Hayes was 2-of-5 after making all 14 he
tried the first two rounds. ... Markson typified Utah's lousy night
by airballing a free throw with 2:10 left and the Utes down eight.
A 71-percent foul shooter coming in, he bounced the next one off
the front rim. "My hands got sweaty and it just slipped out," he
said.