Basketball notes

Kentucky-Penn State notes: Balance of talent yields fluctuating stats

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 20, 2011 

UNCASVILLE. Conn. — Given Kentucky's depth and versatility, Coach John Calipari cautioned reporters Saturday about looking at a particular game's statistics and drawing conclusions.

A question about Darius Miller's scoreless 24 minutes led Calipari to say, "I thought he played pretty good."

From game to game, UK player statistics may vary wildly, which Calipari interpreted as not only a strength, but "the greatest thing about this team."

For instance, Calipari lauded freshman center Anthony Davis' performance despite his scoring only three points.

"He's the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft," the UK coach said. "It's not close. It doesn't matter."

Davis grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots.

"Next game he may go for 25 (points)... it doesn't matter," Calipari said.

Miller grabbed four rebounds and got four assists.

Cal on Teague

The education of freshman point guard Marquis Teague continued. His two assists and three turnovers brought his three-game totals to nine assists and 12 turnovers. Teague was the first starter taken out of the game, sitting for Miller with 16:05 left in the first half.

"I've got to keep working with him," Calipari said. "What I told him after the game was I want people saying, 'I want him to be my point guard.' Right now, no one is saying that."

Calipari said the goal is having observers see Teague as UK's floor leader by season's end.

"I have to keep coaching," Calipari said. "I want him to run my team. But I'm not settling for anything less than what he's capable of doing in running our team."

ODU to face UK

Old Dominion beat South Florida 68-66 in overtime in the other semifinal of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday. ODU starts three seniors, plus a fourth, Kent Bazemore, comes off the bench.

"John (Calipari) will deal with that all year long," ODU Coach Blaine Taylor said. "He'll have a pile of talent. The other guy has more continuity of the roster. ...

"As far as I'm concerned, we're playing the No. 1 team in the country."

'Student-athlete model'

Taylor called Bazemore "an example of the student-athlete model." A fifth-year senior, Bazemore is on schedule to leave ODU with degrees in communication and criminal justice, Taylor said.

Bazemore broke a bone in his left foot during a pickup game last summer. It was originally thought he would be sidelined until December, which he dismissed as "a lot of speculation."

Although he led ODU with 23 points against South Florida, Bazemore said he was not even close to 100 percent. The left-hander said he hoped to use his savvy to counteract UK's skill.

"They're a young squad," Bazemore said. "I've been around the block a couple times. I'll try to take advantage. Like when I was a freshman trying to guard a senior. Kind of tough."

Taylor nodded when told of Bazemore's comment. "He's playing more with his head than his body," the ODU coach said. "Usually, it's the other way around."

UK passes test

A noon start and a heavily favored, freshman-dependent team concerned Calipari.

"I'm pretty well pleased," he said after the one-sided victory over Penn State. "They competed, especially defensively."

The UK coach noted how his team continued to play hard despite a big halftime lead.

"When we created a gap, I was worried about us getting sloppy," he said. "We truly didn't get sloppy."

'Arms, teeth, feet'

Penn State made only six of 37 shots in the first half (one of 15 from three-point range). Calipari suggested at least some credit should go to UK's defense.

"All of a sudden, you have arms and teeth and feet flying at you," he said. "A shot you think is open, all of a sudden isn't so open."

'Go-to guy?'

After UK called timeout trailing Kansas 21-14, the Cats went to Terrence Jones in the low post.

But Jones did not embrace the implication that he is Kentucky's go-to guy.

"We have different game strategies for each game," he said after UK beat Penn State. "We go to different people in different games."

UK believed it could get production from the post against Kansas, he said.

Etc.

■ Three of UK's four Hall of Famers sat at courtside. The three were Dan Issel, Cliff Hagan and C.M. Newton. Frank Ramsey could not make it, Newton said.

■ Davis blocked three shots, bringing his three-game total to 15. The UK single-season record for average blocks is 2.9, set by Sam Bowie in 1980-81.

■ Jones equaled a career-high with five assists.

■ Tip-Off Tournament organizers said 4,755 total tickets were sold for the four games Saturday at the 9,518-seat Mohegan Sun Arena. Saturday's two-game afternoon session was followed by an evening session pitting Marist vs. Vermont and Long Island vs. Radford.

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