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Vols Fight Hard but Fall to No. 3 Kentucky, 73-61
Chris Lofton

Chris Lofton

March 2, 2005

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Coach Peterson | C. Lofton

By MURRAY EVANS
Associated Press Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Senior forward Chuck Hayes, playing his last home game for Kentucky, scored nine of his 13 points in the final 5 minutes as the third-ranked Wildcats held off upset-minded Tennessee 73-61 on Wednesday night.

Patrick Sparks scored 14 points - all in the first half - for the Wildcats (23-3, 14-1), who already had clinched the Southeastern Conference title. Kentucky has one regular season game remaining, at Florida on Sunday.

Tennessee (12-16, 5-10) hung with the Wildcats for most of the game and were tied 55-55 with 8:25 left after Chris Lofton - Kentucky's high school Mr. Basketball in 2004 - hit his fifth 3-pointer.

But Tennessee didn't score again until 1:53 remained, and Kentucky scored 16 of the next 18 points to extend its winning streak over the Volunteers to seven games.

Lofton scored 19 points, giving him 91 in Tennessee's last four games.

After Lofton's basket, Tennessee missed three chances to take the lead before Hayes gave the Wildcats the lead for good with a three-point play with 5:18 left. That was Kentucky's first basket in more than 9{ minutes.

With Kentucky up 59-55, Hayes came up with a breakaway dunk after making a steal. On Kentucky's next possession, he worked underneath for a basket, making it 63-55 with 3:15 left.

Hayes capped his burst with a dunk with 1:23 left, and left the game to a standing ovation with 54 seconds left. He finished 5-of-6 from the field.

Kentucky shot 55.3 percent from the field, including 61.1 percent in the second half. The Wildcats recorded assists on 20 of 26 baskets.

Behind the shooting of Lofton, who had 12 points, Tennessee led most of the first half. The Volunteers led by as many as six points and were up 32-27 with 5:38 left in the half after consecutive 3-pointers by Lofton.

Kentucky scored the final 10 points of the half to lead 37-32. Sparks had five points during that run.

Kentucky led 51-39 with 14:52 left after senior guard Josh Carrier's third 3-pointer. Carrier, who made his first career start, had three 3-pointers and finished with a career-high nine points.

Tennessee played for the fourth straight game without leading scorer Scooter McFadgon, who has a bruised right leg.

Kentucky is one win away from becoming the first NCAA Division I basketball team to win 1,900 games.


 

 

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