UK-Mississippi notes

Wall has fun, puts recent struggles behind him

Cal heaps praise on Cousins after another big game

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 3, 2010 

Ole Miss hoped to confuse and frustrate Kentucky on Tuesday night. The smile on John Wall's face in the post-game interview session proved the futility of that plan.

Wall contributed 17 points and seven assists to UK's 85-75 victory. Maybe more importantly, he got to enjoy the kind of highlight plays that make the game fun.

"Yeah, it was fun," Wall said. "I had my first couple dunks in like four games."

After UK beat Vanderbilt on Saturday, Wall acknowledged frustration with being the target of opposing defenses and Coach John Calipari's blunt assessments.

He even suggested he'd ignore Calipari's criticisms and simply play.

"When you're frustrated, you're going to say a lot of things you don't mean," Wall said on Tuesday.

The victory over Ole Miss returned Wall to the relative carefree days of the season's pre-conference schedule. No play epitomized that better than a lob he threw for fellow freshman Eric Bledsoe early in the second half.

An Ole Miss defender deflected the pass, but like the tip drill in football, Bledsoe kept his concentration, rose for the ball and laid it in.

"I hope that's on SportsCenter," Wall said. "Because that was a spectacular play by Eric."

His wish came true, and it was No. 1 in the top 10 plays on the 11:30 edition.

But if the Rebels would have had their way, Kentucky would not have made any plays suitable for ESPN's highlights show. Ole Miss came into the game shorthanded with forward Reginald Buckner out because of a sprained ankle. So the plan was to keep the Cats out of sync.

"We knew our only chance was to confuse them and slow them down," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "I was hoping they'd look at our (changing) defenses and have to look back to the bench to see what to do."

Five turnovers inside the first nine minutes foiled that strategy and fueled UK's early 27-9 lead.

"They got down the floor so fast, they don't care what (defense) you're in," Kennedy said.

Six charges

UK took six charges in the game. The Cats cited the Ole Miss offense, which was predicated on drives to the basket.

Among the players taking charges were DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins.

Halftime lament

UK led 46-37 at halftime and Calipari thought the margin should have been much larger.

Of the Rebels' 37 points, all but 10 came off UK's turnovers (11 in the first half) or on second-chance opportunities.

"You just can't be turning the ball over like that," Calipari said.

Cal 'speaks the truth'

Calipari praised Cousins as the most accomplished big man he's coached on the college or pro level.

Cousins said he simply was doing "my role: rebounding and playing ball."

When asked if he was surprised by Calipari's high praise, Cousins said, "Nah. He speaks the truth."

Kennedy likened Cousins' talent to that of Chris Washburn, a standout big man for North Carolina State in the 1980s. Washburn squandered his considerable pro potential.

After noting Cousins' size, talent and "unbelievable ability," Kennedy said, "Hopefully he can channel that in a positive direction."

Etc.

Patterson's 12 points moved him past Frank Ramsey and into 26th place on UK's career scoring list. He increased his total points to 1,352. Next up is Mike Pratt at 1,359. ... Cousins' 18 points gave him 358 this season. He needs five more to pass Jamal Mashburn for seventh place on UK's list of freshman scorers. ... Bledsoe's eight assists were a career high.

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