LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The shooting touch that kept Austin Peay
in contention against Kentucky through most of the second half
failed the Governors down the stretch.
Gerald Fitch scored 14 points and No. 8 Kentucky withstood a
second-half rally to beat the Governors 61-53 Wednesday.
Kentucky (8-1) never trailed, but needed 5-for-6 shooting from
the line in the final minute to hold off Austin Peay, which trimmed
a 17-point second-half deficit to 56-53 with 2:49 left.
Austin Peay squandered a chance to tie when Adrian Henning
missed a 3-point attempt with 2:02 left. The Governors (3-7), the
defending Ohio Valley Conference champions, missed their last four
field-goal attempts and two free-throw tries.
"I wish we had played a little better offensively, but I don't
think that anybody can argue with the effort that these guys
gave," Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. "I was so proud of the
way they battled back.
"Anybody on this level within three with two minutes to play
has got to be happy. It's disappointing we couldn't have done
better down the stretch."
"They didn't give up," Hayes said of the Governors. "They
kept fighting. Give them credit. They've got experience and they
made adjustments. I'm definitely glad to get this one out of our
Austin Peay shot 5-for-24 from the field in the first half but
improved to 12-for-23 in the second half.
Davis made three 3-pointers in a 14-2 run as Austin Peay cut a
41-24 deficit to 43-38 with 9:09 mark.
"We certainly needed some offense and he came alive," Loos
said of Davis. "We recruited him to give us some offense. He came
alive and gave us a real spark this afternoon, so I hope he can
give us some consistency."
Austin Peay, which lost five of its last six, closed within
53-51 with 3:56 left before Cliff Hawkins hit a 3-pointer for
Hayes and Hawkins each converted a pair of free throws in the
final minute to help seal the win. Kentucky finished 23-of-56 from
the field (41.1 percent).
"This team played hard; we just didn't play smart," Kentucky
coach Tubby Smith said. "We took some questionable shots. We
missed five layups at the basket that we didn't finish.
"It's not a matter of effort. We're just not getting enough
people doing the right things, and then, give them credit, (Austin
Peay took) things away from us."
Kentucky charged to a 9-0 lead, but was then held scoreless for
more than six minutes. Austin Peay failed to capitalize and didn't
score until almost five minutes into the game.
Smith, who has relied on a seven-player rotation most of the
season, went deep into his bench midway through the first half and
Kentucky's starters didn't return until nearly four minutes later.
"It was not benching them, it was to get more energy," Smith
said. "I wanted us to be fresh in the second half, but obviously,
it didn't work."
Kentucky led 18-12 with 3:40 left in the half before scoring the
final eight points, the last two on a dunk by seldom-used 7-foot-3
freshman Shagari Alleyne at the buzzer.
Kentucky is 24-1 against OVC teams, including 4-0 against Austin
The Wildcats, who were coming off a 65-56 loss to Louisville,
have won the next game following each of their last 10 losses.