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Gillespie wins coaching debut as Kentucky downs Central Arkansas

Nov 7, 2007 - 3:57 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- In just his first game as coach, Billy Gillespie's pressure defense has already made its mark at Kentucky.

Joe Crawford scored 20 points and No. 22 Kentucky held Central Arkansas to just 20 percent shooting en route to a 67-40 victory in the season opener during the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer on Tuesday.

"It's always fun to win," Gillespie said. "We've got a long way to go obviously, but winning is a lot better than losing."

Kentucky will next face Gardner-Webb in the second round on Wednesday. The Runnin' Bulldogs defeated Alabama A&M, 69-55, earlier on Tuesday.

After Tubby Smith departed for Minnesota, Gillespie was named Kentucky's coach after leading Texas A&M to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. Under Gillespie, the Aggies held opponents to 37.5 percent shooting and allowed less than 50 points nine times during the season.

Last season Kentucky had held opponents to 41 percent shooting, while allowing less than 50 points three times.

However, the Wildcats forced Central Arkansas to shoot just 19 percent (5-of-26) in the first half and held the Bears to five points over the final 10 minutes of the game.

"I think there's no question that we were forced out of our offense," Central Arkansas coach Rand Chappell said. "Early, I thought we tried to shoot it too quick. You are going to have to move the ball, screen some people and do a few things to get some good looks."

Mark Coury added a career-high 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who have been ranked in the preseason every year since the 1991-92 season.

The sophomore Coury, who is a former walk-on, scored 10 of Kentucky's first 12 points, taking advantage of his first career start.

"Whoever earns it, get's it," Gillespie said. "That's the way we work. I want all of them to compete like crazy and I want all of them to rebound it. I want all of them to defend and carry out all of their responsibilities."

Kentucky scored the game's first eight points and held Central Arkansas scoreless for the first 5:16 of the game en route to a 14-point lead at halftime.

The Wildcats further broke the game open on a 13-1 run in the second half to take a 53-31 advantage with just over 11 minutes to play.

Durrell Nevels scored 10 points to lead the Bears, who are beginning their second season as a Division I program.

"It was a good experience for us as a team," Nevels said. "We went out there and we played hard. Now we know what we need to work on as a team."








  • 2K SPORTS COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC
    NCAA BB 2K SPORTS COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC
    FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
    --- --- -----
    CENTRAL ARK 20 20 40
    KENTUCKY (22) 34 33 67 FINAL

    Nov 6 9:05 PM


  • 2K SPORTS COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC
    NCAA BB CENTRAL ARK 20
    (22) KENTUCKY 34 HALFTIME

    Nov 6 7:50 PM