Camara saves Kentucky

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2003

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee -- Jules Camara came up with a gem for Kentucky.

Camara knocked down a key jumper with 53 seconds to go to help lift the 19th-ranked Wildcats to a 74-71 victory over Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Tennessee (7-3) trailed through most of the second half, but grabbed a 71-70 lead on a steal and layup by freshman C.J. Watson with 81 seconds to go. Watson was fouled on the play and missed the free throw.

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Kentucky (10-3) patiently worked the shot clock down before feeding Marquis Estill on the left side of the lane. Estill was double-teamed and found Camara at the foul line, where he nailed his shot to give the Wildcats the lead for good.

"I was pleased with our effort," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "It was gutsy and we made the plays. Jules Camara had good numbers – he made the clutch shots and had a key defensive block."

The Volunteers called a timeout to set up their next play, but Thaydeus Holden's out-of-control layup attempt was blocked out of bounds off a Tennessee player. The Wildcats' Gerald Fitch sank a pair at the line for a three-point lead with 16 seconds to go.

Tennessee went to John Winchester on its final possession and the freshman guard misfired long on a 3-point attempt with three seconds to go and time expired.

"On the last play of the game, other players were locked up," Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson said. "John Winchester had to take the 3-pointer. He had a good look, but it didn't go down."

Keith Bogans led Kentucky with 20 points and Fitch added 17. Bogans, a senior guard, had his fourth game of 20 or more points against the Volunteers and also grabbed nine rebounds.

"I thought Keith Bogans set the tone on the glass tonight," Smith said. "Nine rebounds may be a career high for him."

Bogans came off the bench for unspecified reasons and made 6-of-14 shots and all six free throws. His work on the glass helped the Wildcats, who have won four straight, hold a 35-27 edge.

Camara made 4-of-5 shots for 12 points off the bench and also grabbed five rebounds. With

Bogans not starting, Kentucky held a 35-12 edge in bench points and also shot 82 percent (28-of-34) from the line.

"It was a well-played game, but the bottom line is you can't put Kentucky at the free-throw line 34 times," Peterson said. "Too many of our players were in foul trouble. You need to be play defense without fouling."

Kentucky took a 22-17 lead on two free throws by Camara with 7:48 left before halftime. Tennessee responded with a 12-2 spurt and took a 29-24 lead on Elgrace Wilborn's dunk with 2:37 to go.

Bogans made a 3-pointer for a 62-57 edge with 8:17 remaining, the largest lead either team had in the second half. Camara's two foul shots with just over two minutes to go made it 70-67 before Tennessee forward Ron Slay threw in a hook and Watson stripped Bogans and went in for his go-ahead layup.

Slay, coming off a career-high 38-point outing Saturday against New Mexico, led the Volunteers with 22 points. Jon Higgins added 17 points and Watson scored 15, but Higgins had just six points on 2-of-4 shooting in the second half.

"The key was getting to the free-throw line," Smith said. "Another key was getting Jon Higgins out of the game. It was a good team effort defensively."

Kentucky won its SEC opener for the 16th time in 17 years. Tennessee had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-1 at home