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Nov 26, 2002

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AP Basketball Writer

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) – Most college basketball coaches will admit they don’t like to play a lot of zone defense. Virginia’s Pete Gillen isn’t in that group right now.

Devin Smith hit three 3-pointers in the final six minutes – one more than Kentucky managed in the game against the Cavaliers’ matchup zone – and Virginia beat the 15th-ranked Wildcats 75-61 Tuesday in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

“We played it once last year against Georgetown for 38, 39 minutes,” Gillen said of the zone defense. “I’m not a zone coach but sometimes you have to put your ego in your pocket. We kept it basic, changed a couple of things.”

Smith, a 6-foot-5 junior college transfer, was 2-for-7 from 3-point range in the Cavaliers’ first two games of the season but he made three of four from beyond the arc in the last six minutes of the game.

“Luckily, every time I was open I hit the shot,” he said.

Virginia (3-0) will play in Wednesday night’s championship game against No. 19 Indiana, which beat No. 20 Gonzaga 76-75.

The Cavaliers’ matchup zone caused all kinds of problems for Kentucky (1-1), which went 2-for-22 from 3-point range, missing its first 17 attempts from there.

“We had some good looks, but I think we settled for outside shots,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. “Virginia did a good job going to the zone and then you miss a couple and get tight and the basket gets smaller.”

Keith Bogans hit Kentucky’s first 3 with 8:18 left to bring the Wildcats within 51-48, but Todd Billet answered with a 3 for Virginia, 8-for-25 on 3s.

Brandon Stockton hit Kentucky’s other 3 with 7:05 left to make it 56-53 but after Elton Brown scored down low for Virginia, Smith scored the Cavaliers’ next nine points on long range shots. His last one made it 67-59 with 1:24 to play, and Virginia closed it out from the free throw line.

Smith’s last 3 came on an inbounds play with four seconds left on the shot clock and the ball bounced on the rim before falling through.

“Sometimes you need that luck of the Irish,” Gillen said.

Smith and Billet led Virginia with 15 points each, while Keith Jenifer had 13 points and six assists.

“Devin had the courage to take those shots,” Gillen said. “It wasn’t designed by the coach.”

Marquis Estill, Jules Camara and Bogans each had 12 points for Kentucky, which shot 37 percent overall. Estill had his points in a foul-plagued 13 minutes. He picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening two minutes of the second half.

“Marquis was giving us some excellent play, but he had to be smarter about how he played,” Smith said. “He has to learn to play with three fouls because he will be in that situation again.”

Kentucky went up 18-9 with Estill scoring 10 points, but the 6-foot-9 senior picked up his second foul with 13:37 to play in the first half and the Wildcats’ offense was dramatically affected, going scoreless for 8:40.

Virginia went on a 14-0 run in that span to take a 23-18 lead. Kentucky missed 15 shots and committed four turnovers during the scoring drought that finally ended when Bogans dunked on the break with 6:19 left.

Camara, who replaced Estill, asserted himself inside, scoring eight of the Wildcats’ last 10 points of the half on three offensive rebounds and a hook shot. Antwain Barbour’s drive with less than a second left gave the Wildcats a 32-30 halftime lead.

“We got good looks at the basket, we just didn’t knock the shots down,” Bogans said.

Billet, 3-for-9 on 3s, and Smith, 3-for-5, led Virginia in the second half from the outside. Smith, Travis Watson and Nick Vander Laan each had eight rebounds for Virginia, which had a 41-32 advantage on the boards.

Watson, Virginia’s leading scorer and rebounder, crashed hard to the floor in the second half but returned to the game.

“It was his hip and he’ll be sore but we’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Gillen said.

Kentucky leads the series 6-3 with the last game a 104-84 victory for the Wildcats on Dec. 3, 1966.

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