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Updated: Friday, March 21, 2003 6:07 PM EST
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(1) Kentucky 95, (16) Iupui 64
IUPUI Jaguars
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Kentucky Wildcats
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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Kentucky barely broke a sweat, which is just what coach Tubby Smith wanted.

Gerald Fitch tied his career high with 25 points as the top-seeded Wildcats coasted to a 95-64 victory over IUPUI in the first round of the Midwest Region.

The Wildcats (30-3) used 11 players to stretch their winning streak to 24 games and will play Utah in Sunday's second round.

"In a game like this where we had a comfortable lead, you want to make sure you get everyone in the game and you get your guys the proper rest so when we come back on Sunday we'll be ready," Smith said.

Josh Murray led the Jaguars with 15 points. IUPUI shot just 37 percent and was the fourth straight Kentucky opponent to shoot below 40 percent.

"Defense is how we started our winning streak. That's what we strive off of," Fitch said. "Earlier in the season, we always thought of offense first, but we weren't winning too many games. When coach got our minds set on defense, we realized that's what we needed to do."

IUPUI (20-13), the winner of the Mid-Continent Conference tournament, made the field of 65 in just its sixth season of Division I basketball. The commuter school of 27,000 students was formed in 1969 when Indiana and Purdue merged campuses in Indianapolis.

IUPUI became a sentimental tournament choice after coach Ron Hunter did a belly-flop to celebrate their conference tournament title and ripped his pants.

"What I learned is no matter what level you play at, no matter how far you advance, and no matter what you do, you have to enjoy it," Hunter said. "And I enjoyed myself so much. It doesn't matter what I do from here on out. I'll never forget these guys."

But the Jaguars could not keep pace with the Wildcats, who closed the first half with a 12-4 run to take a 48-28 lead at intermission. Fitch had eight points in the spurt, which included a dunk by Marquis Estill and a running 3-pointer at the buzzer by Cliff Hawkins.

Kentucky has not lost since an 81-63 defeat at Louisville on December 28. The Wildcats also have won 12 straight first-round games and are top seeded for the eighth time.

Estill, Keith Bogans and Hawkins each scored 13 points for the Wildcats, who shot 61.5 percent from the field, the third time this season it has passes the 60 percent barrier.

The Wildcats were physical with the Jaguars, and IUPUI's Josh Murray was poked in the eye at one point.

"I think their scouting report was to take my eye out early," Murray joked. "But no, I just lost a contact (lens), and luckily I found it."

Odell Bradley sank a 3-pointer with 13:43 to cut Kentucky's lead to 56-43 with 13:43 left, but that was the closest the Jaguars would get. Kentucky ran off the next seven points, including a layup by Hawkins, a jumper by Kelenna Azubuike and a dunk by Bogans.

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