October 31, 2007  

Meeks and Patterson Lead Cats Past Pikeville

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Billy Gillispie took the court as Kentucky's coach for the first time Wednesday night and, if one exhibition game is any indication, he's making good on his promise to turn up the tempo. The Wildcats used deadly 3-point shooting and numerous fast-break buckets to run all over Pikeville College 99-64.

Gillispie, wearing a gray suit and bright yellow tie, knelt just inside the coaching box at the corner of Kentucky's bench much of the game. Although it was the first of two that won't count in the standings for the Wildcats this week, the new coach intensely followed the action, barking at his players and occasionally the referees. If Gillispie was the most-watched newcomer at Rupp Arena Wednesday night, second was freshman power forward Patrick Patterson - a blue chip recruit out of West Virginia. Patterson, who finished 10-of-12 from the floor for 21 points, entered the game less than two minutes in and scored four seconds later from the paint. He added an alley-oop layup late in the first half and his first dunk as a Wildcat early in the second.

Kentucky connected on 63 percent of its shots, but by far the hottest touch belonged to sophomore guard Jodie Meeks. He led the way with 34 points, connecting on seven of his nine 3-point attempts. Meeks' 27 points in the first half matched Pikeville's team total. His career high is 18, but the exhibition totals don't count in the record book.

If the game was ever in question, the Wildcats put it out of reach early in the first half with a 16-0 run that turned their 13-9 lead into a 29-9 advantage. All but one point in that span came from long range, as Meeks nailed three 3-pointers and Joe Crawford added two. Kentucky's defense was nearly as impressive, allowing no fast-break baskets - compared with 18 points for the Wildcats - and only seven second-chance points.

Gillispie, who said he still hadn't settled on his starting lineup Tuesday night, furiously mixed and matched throughout the game, using 12 players and a variety of combinations. His exhibition starting lineup featured senior guard Ramel Bradley and four sophomores: Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Mark Coury and Meeks. The Wildcats play another exhibition Saturday against Seattle before opening the regular season Tuesday night against Central Arkansas.







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