Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Ailing Bogans little help in UK’s blowout loss

March 30, 2003


— Kentucky just wasn't the same without a healthy Keith Bogans.

The senior point guard was clearly hampered by his sprained left ankle Saturday, and the Wildcats' 26-game winning streak came to a stunning end with an 83-69 loss to Marquette in the Midwest Regional final.

"I don't know what happened," forward Chuck Hayes said. "It's like a big nightmare."

Wearing a white plastic brace on the ankle, Bogans started and scored 15 points in 24 minutes -- but he obviously wasn't at full strength.

"It was painful," Bogans said. "I tried to block it out."

Was staying on the bench a consideration?

"Nah, the game meant too much to sit and watch," said Bogans, who patiently and quietly answered dozens of questions for about 20 minutes in a somber locker room after a postgame news conference.

"We hoped people would really feed off him, but we couldn't seem to execute," coach Tubby Smith said. "His competitiveness is contagious, and I think that shows. He was a little wounded, so he wasn't as aggressive as we or he wanted."

The outside shooting, tough defense and tireless leadership Bogans normally provides were missing, and his struggles seemed to carry over to the rest of the team.

"Marquette did everything right," Gerald Fitch said. "They got to the loose balls, rebounds and they moved the ball."

The Wildcats insisted, though, seeing Bogans hobble around was an inspiration and not a detriment to their spirit.

"It didn't have anything to do with it," Fitch said. "We weren't even thinking about Keith's injury."

But Bogans was.

"I felt like I wasn't myself," he said. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I was out there doing what I could do. I wasn't trying to take over the game or anything."

Marquette's Dwyane Wade did that instead.

Hayes, who kept Kirk Penney in check in the second half of the victory over Wisconsin, fouled out with 6:17 to go without scoring and couldn't contain the Golden Eagles' star.

Wade finished with an astonishing 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the crowd of 28,383 -- dominated by Golden Eagles fans wearing dark blue and gold T-shirts -- roared with approval.

Bogans made a wide-open three-pointer from the corner to pull the top-seeded Wildcats to 22-19 with 7:45 left before halftime, but that was Kentucky's last basket until Cliff Hawkins scored with 16 seconds remaining to trim Marquette's lead to 45-26.

Grimacing at times and slightly favoring his right foot on jumps and cuts, Bogans' touch was gone, too. He was 4-for-11 from the field -- 3-of-7 from three-point range -- and was unable to get open and knock down a critical perimeter shot when the Wildcats (32-4) needed one.

They needed it badly because Marquis Estill, who scored a career-high 28 points against undersized Wisconsin in the regional semifinals Thursday night, had his hands full underneath against Robert Jackson.

Jackson had 24 points and 15 rebounds while holding Estill to 10 points and six rebounds.

It wasn't just Bogans throwing up bricks. The Wildcats shot 25-for-64 (39 percent) from the field and 4-of-16 from three-point range. Fitch had 15 points, but most of them came on layups.

Kentucky, seeking its 14th trip to the Final Four, pulled within 12 in the second half but no closer.

Trailing by 20, Bogans drove the lane and missed a layup in traffic, then looked up with a wince.

Removed from the game shortly after, Bogans stood motionless on the Kentucky sideline with his hands on his hips for the final two minutes.

When Marquette's Steve Novak made his fifth three-pointer, Bogans glanced up at the scoreboard glumly as the final seconds of his college career ticked away.

"I'm going to miss everything," he said. "My career has been very special. I appreciate the opportunity to play for coach Smith."

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