Notes: Liggins gives UK a boost off bench

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 20, 2011 

For the game against South Carolina on Saturday, DeAndre Liggins took his turn coming off the Kentucky bench. It agreed with him.

Liggins, who had made five of 17 shots (one of eight from three-point range) the previous two games, contributed 11 points to UK's 90-59 victory.

"It was good," Liggins said of coming off the bench. "I gave the team a spark off the bench."

Liggins noted UK Coach John Calipari had tried different players in the sixth-man role this season. "It was my turn," he said. "It was great. I came off the bench last year."

Calipari spoke highly of how Liggins handled coming off the bench.

"I thought he had great energy," the UK coach said. "He was focused. He was good. You know, we tried some different stuff, bringing him off the bench. Maybe that's what he needs, too."

Liggins had the shot of the game. With victory assured, he tried a three-pointer from the right wing with barely four minutes left. The ball revolved around the rim three times before dropping through the net.

"I was thinking, 'Don't go out,'" Liggins said. "It took awhile, but it went in."

Gamecocks can't score

For the fifth time this season, UK had five players with double-digit points.

At the opposite end was South Carolina's leading scorer, point guard Bruce Ellington. Calipari predicted on Friday a slumping Ellington would make his first five shots against an inspiring opponent like Kentucky.

Ellington missed all six shots he attempted in the first half and finished 1-for-11 in the game. The Gamecocks' three players with double-digit scoring averages — Sam Muldrow, Ramon Galloway and Ellington — shot a combined 0-for-18 (0-for-7 from beyond the arc) in the first half. The trio finished 7-for-32 overall and 3-for-14 from three-point range.

"I'm not tired," said Ellington, who has made eight of 43 shots (three of 28 on three-pointers) the last three games. "I don't think there is anything wrong with my shot. I just have to go in the gym and keep working."

'Incredibly disappointed'

Of course, South Carolina Coach Darrin Horn grew up in Lexington. His parents, wife and children sat behind the Gamecocks' bench and watched his team not only lose by 31 points, but really never mount much of a challenge.

"I'm incredibly disappointed in our team that we didn't compete," Horn said.

When asked if he was concerned about the Gamecocks bouncing back against Mississippi on Tuesday, Horn said, "I'm not worried about any of that. I'm worried if we are going to show up and compete. I have very little concern for where our guys are right now. I have great concern for (if the players can) compete and play what resembles South Carolina basketball."

No help from UK?

Louisville attorney Dan Owens seeks players for the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. That high school all-star game included UK recruits every year since its inception in 1972. But that might change this year with Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer all scheduled to play in the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic all-star games.

This led Owens to send an e-mail to UK officials on Friday seeking cooperation in asking at least one of the recruits to play in the Derby Festival game, which is scheduled to be played on April 22 this year.

Noting that the Festival had been a "loyal supporter" of UK, Owens wrote, "During my 25-year tenure, never has a UK player not been invited to participate in the Classic, even when they may not have been talented enough to merit that invitation."

Owens said Saturday that he spoke with Gilchrist, who expressed a desire to play in a Kentucky-based all-star game.

"Having at least one out of the four signees in our game seems only fair and should still satisfy the concerns of Nike and the Jordan Classic," Owens wrote in the e-mail.

Owens sent the e-mail to Calipari, assistant coaches Orlando Antigua and Kenny Payne, Director of Operations Martin Newton, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.

Moments before UK played South Carolina, Owens said he had not received a reply.


■ Brandon Knight flirted with a triple-double, scoring 12 points, handing out a career-high nine assists and grabbing six rebounds. He also had only one turnover in 33 minutes.

■ Terrence Jones posted his SEC-leading 10th double-double. He had 19 points and 12 rebounds, the latter matching his SEC high. Jones also had three assists, giving him eight in the last two games. Jones moved past Chris Mills and Rex Chapman on UK's freshman scoring list. His season total increased to 465. The only UK freshmen to score more points are John Wall (616) and DeMarcus Cousins (575).

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