LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky's defense is in good shape, it's
the offense that needs some fine-tuning.
The Wildcats opened the season with a 65-44 win over Winthrop on
Friday night, a game in which No. 10 Kentucky didn't a shoot well
but forced 29 turnovers."If we don't come up with a great defensive effort tonight,
they come away with a win," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
"When we are not shooting the ball well, I like that we can hang
it in there with our defense."Erik Daniels scored 15 points and the Wildcats opened the second
half with a 16-3 run to take control. Kentucky shot 44.9 percent
from the field (22 of 49) and had 24 turnovers.Still, the Wildcats led by 11 at halftime and extended the
advantage to 48-24 in the opening minutes of the second half. The
Wildcats led by as many as 28 points.Chuck Hayes and Gerald Fitch added 12 points apiece and Kelenna
Azubuike had 11 for Kentucky, which forced Winthrop into 29
turnovers.Winthrop's point total was its lowest since scoring 42 early
last season in a loss to Utah. The Eagles have been held under 50
points just six times in coach Gregg Marshall's six seasons.Kentucky held Alabama and Vanderbilt to less than 50 points last
season, but before that hadn't done so since December 2000.Defense "is the best part of our team," Daniels said.
"Everything starts with defense."The Eagles had more than twice as many turnovers as field goals
(14)."They made every pass an adventure," Marshall said. "You
can't simulate it. Before we left, we put a sixth defender out on
the court in practice. So, we sort of simulated it but that guy was
basically just running around like a chicken with his head cut
off."The Wildcats trailed only once, in the opening minutes, but
gained control and led 32-21 at the half."We were pretty anxious to make the great play instead of the
simple play," Smith said.The one offensive bright spot for Kentucky was its 3-point
shooting, as the Wildcats made 9-of-18 attempts. Azubuike made all
three of his 3-point attempts.Reserve Josh Grant had nine points to lead Winthrop, which has
played in the NCAA tournament four of the past five years. Tyrone
Walker, the preseason pick as Big South Conference player of the
year, scored just four points on 2-of-8 shooting.Kentucky is 25-3 in season openers at Rupp Arena. Winthrop fell
to 0-11 against Southeastern Conference teams.