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Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2002 3:36 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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Virginia 75, (16) Kentucky 61
VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
Virginia Cavaliers
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KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Kentucky Wildcats
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LAHAINA, Hawaii (Ticker) -- Kentucky had trouble all night with the 3-point shot, but Todd Billet and Devin Smith did not.

Billet and Smith each hit three 3-pointers in the second half to lead Virginia to a 75-61 victory over the 16th-ranked Wildcats and a berth in the championship of the Maui Invitational.

"We beat a great team," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "We were fortunate to win."

Virginia (3-0) took the lead for good at 44-42 on a 3-pointer by Billet with 14 1/2 minutes to go. He added his third of the half with just under eight minutes left for a 54-48 advantage.

That 3-pointer preceded one by the Wildcats' Keith Bogans, the first for Kentucky. It missed its first 17 attempts from beyond the arc and made just 2-of-22 for the game.

A lane jumper by Gerald Fitch pulled Kentucky (1-1) within 61-59 with 2:38 left, but Smith answered with a long 3-pointer for a five-point cushion. After a turnover by the Wildcats, Virginia ran down the shot clock before Smith stepped back and nailed another 3-pointer to make it 67-59 with 84 seconds to go.

Smith and Billet led Virginia with 15 points apiece. Reserve Keith Jenifer, who came into the game shooting just 1-of-11 from the floor, made 6-of-10 shots for 13 points and added six assists.

"Keith Jenifer had a spectacular game for us," Gillen said. "He had struggled in his last two performances. He kept us in the game."

The Cavaliers will face Indiana in Wednesday's championship.

The first half featured a series of runs. Kentucky scored 10 straight points for a 14-6 lead, but Virginia later had a 14-0 spurt for a five-point lead. The Wildcats held a 32-30 edge at intermission.

Travis Watson took advantage of some foul trouble by Kentucky's Marquis Estill to command the interior in the second half before taking a hard fall and leaving the game. He returned and finished with eight points and eight rebounds.

The trip to Maui is turning into a good one for Virginia, which had to endure memories of its stunning loss to host Chaminade 20 years ago at a pre-tournament banquet. The Cavaliers struggled on Monday before pulling away for an 86-72 victory over Chaminade in the first round.

"I didn't have confidence yesterday," Gillen said. "Today we had confidence."

Smith and Nick Vander Laan each pulled down eight rebounds as Virginia held a 41-32 edge on the glass. Smith made 3-of-5 from beyond the arc as the Cavaliers were 8-of-25.

Jules Camara took advantage of Estill's absence and came off the bench for 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Estill and Bogans also each added 12 points.

But Bogans and freshman Antwain Barbour were the main culprits in Kentucky's struggles from the arc. Bogans was 1-of-6 and Barbour missed all six attempts.

The game was the first between the schools since Kentucky posted a 104-84 win on December 3, 1966.


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