No. 4 Kentucky Is Upset, 64-52
Western Kentucky Coach Dennis Felton had no doubt his squad could defeat a team as talented and as deep as No. 4 Kentucky in its opener Thursday night.
The trick was convincing his players it was possible.
“We knew it was going to be a big challenge to beat a great team on their home court,” said Felton, whose Hilltoppers stunned the Wildcats, 64-52, in Lexington, Ky., in the first round of the NABC Classic. “I told our players that people across the country are suspect as to how good we really are.
“We have to prove to everyone that we’re not suspect. With as good as Kentucky is, maybe everyone will see just how good Western Kentucky is.”
David Boyden scored 15 points and Chris Marcus had 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Hilltoppers defeated their intrastate rivals for the first time since a 107-83 victory that knocked the Wildcats out of the 1971 NCAA tournament.
“We didn’t come here without being confident in our team,” said Marcus, a 7-foot-2, 290-pounder who is considered one of the country’s best big men. “From the first jump, we knew [we had a chance].
“We weren’t nervous. We showed that it doesn’t matter what type of players you have or if you’re ranked. We worked as a team and showed how talented we really are.”
Western Kentucky advanced to play George Washington, a 69-64 winner against Marshall, in today’s championship game.
Tayshaun Prince and Marvin Stone each scored 12 points to lead Kentucky, which will play the Thundering Herd in today’s consolation game.
“We didn’t have any flow--any cohesiveness in our offense, any leadership in our attacking,” Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith said. “This was a tough loss. We certainly have a lot of work to do.”
Eastern Washington 68, No. 10 Saint Joseph’s 67--Chris Hester scored 20 points to lead the Eagles to a season-opening victory at Berkeley in the first round of the Black Coaches Assn. Classic.
St. Joseph’s entered the game ranked in a preseason poll for the first time since 1965, but the Hawks began the season with a loss to a moderately regarded Big Sky Conference team.
Delonte West had a chance to tie the score for St. Joseph’s with three seconds left, but missed the second of two free throws. The ball was batted around and a desperation shot by Na’im Crenshaw bounced off the rim at he buzzer.
Jason Humbert had 16 points and seven rebounds for Eastern Washington. The Eagles, who outrebounded St. Joseph’s, 37-28, made only 14 of 30 free throws.
Sue Bird scored 20 points and Tamika Williams had a career-high 19 rebounds at Storrs, Conn., to lead No. 1-ranked Connecticut (3-0) to a 94-74 victory against North Carolina (2-1) in a semifinal of the preseason National Invitation Tournament. The Huskies (3-0) will play No. 3 Vanderbilt in Sunday’s championship at Storrs. The Commodores (3-0) defeated No. 12 Colorado, 72-51, at Nashville, Tenn.