"A week before Mike's injury we were coming so well I thought it would be like '66," said Assistant Coach Joe Hall, who does not moan. "We had all that ability, and pride, too. Then the whole organization digressed." Since Kentucky is weak in the other corner, where Larry Steele is skinny and inexperienced, Rupp moved his star shooter, Mike Casey, to a forward and played red-shirt Terry Mills in backcourt opposite Argento. Though Steele gave Kentucky a good first game, he died against Miami. Rupp tried four different men at the position and got a total of seven points and five rebounds. Against the press the Wildcats blew most of a 20-point lead, seeing it shrink to two before Casey bailed them out to win the game in the last minute. Rupp was concerned.
At those infamous closed practices, barred to visitors by the type of iron gates Ivanhoe used to have a tough time cracking, the Baron was furious and calm at the same time.
"Do you know where we were in Ohio?" he asked a young charge the day after the Miami game. "Yes, sir. Oxford, sir," said the charge. "Well, now, that's real nice, son," said Rupp, tiny rivulets of sarcasm dripping to the floor, "because you didn't know where in the world you were last night. Pratt here can play better one-handed than the rest of you put together."
It was probably right then that Rupp decided he had to have his one-handed man for North Carolina. The coach kept denying that Pratt would see much action, but in practice Pratt worked hard and showed few ill effects of the injury. Still, North Carolina looked to be the more solid team, mostly because of its size and Scott. "They're even better than last year," said Hall, "and it's Scott who does it. He shoots, he feeds, he goes everywhere for his points and he gives them defense. Really, it is impossible to stop him."
While Kentucky hoped to block off Scott's cutting lanes and to hold North Carolina down on the boards, the Tar Heels' needs were more general. Their past successes had come in forcing Kentucky out of its well-established patterns and in denying second shots. Smith uses combinations of zone and man-to-man presses, both half-court and full. He wanted to make Kentucky free lance on offense and to keep 6'8�" Dan Issel away from rebounds on defense, where he is quick to release and start the break. The Wildcats, on the other hand, could not match up well defensively because of Scott, and they were afraid their 1-3-1 trap zone would permit the Carolina big men too many shots underneath.
Pratt did start and played most of the game with Casey in the other corner; Rupp's backcourt, however, was badly outplayed. Early on, Carolina hurt the zone by hitting easy shots in close. Casey, meanwhile, was throttled by Scott on defense. The Tar Heel guards, Dick Gruber and Ed Fogler, were harassing the Kentucky backcourt men and the latter could not find Casey. Mysteriously, North Carolina then switched defenses, and Casey tore apart the zone press, hitting 10 of his game-leading 26 points in the last six minutes to bring Kentucky to within four points at half time.
At the outset of the second period, however, Scott scored two quick baskets, and North Carolina fired out to a 12-point lead. The Tar Heels seemed to pick up overmatched fast breaks at will as Kentucky was caught with its guards crashing the boards and nobody else back. Rupp went to a man-to-man—and got some movement on offense with sophomore Greg Starrick—but Fogler guided the Tar Heel 1-4 offense right through the Wildcats, and the spread was carried to a staggering 19 points with seven minutes left. Issel, who had tired noticeably and was not a factor, got a second wind, but it was too late.
When it was over, Carolina had won the rebounds 45-34 (Clark had 16, Scott 9) and had shot 54%. Scott scored a modest 19 points but was responsible for countless more; one scouting report of the Tar Heels had said, "Keep them outside." What it meant was keep Charles Scott and the North Carolina team outside the gym.