Darius Miller's cloak of invisibility against South Carolina on Saturday seemed to reduce a frustrated Kentucky Coach John Calipari to guttural sounds.
"Ech, ech, ech," Calipari said before regaining his verbal footing. "Every once in a while, that's what he is. Just passive."
Miller made one shot, grabbed one rebound, committed three turnovers and scored four points in a performance for the aged. His 19 minutes marked a season low.
"They trap, he loses it," Calipari said. "Has open shots, doesn't take them. Drives to pass instead of being strong and score."
Disinterest apparently does not make Miller disappear like Marty McFly's family photograph in the movie Back to the Future.
"He wants to do well," Calipari said. "He's not like ... he doesn't care.
"It's just that there is something that switches on and off with him. When it's on, he's as good as anybody in the country. But when it's off, oh my goodness."
Calipari credited the switched-on Miller as the reason Kentucky made its run to the Southeastern Conference Tournament title and NCAA Tournament Final Four last year. He averaged 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in being named the SEC Tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"He just took over," Calipari said. "Made plays. Made shots. Defended. Rebounded. Toughness. That's what we need out of him."
Against South Carolina, UK got Miller lite.
Calipari lauded the consistent contributions from freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.
When asked about how he judges Kidd-Gilchrist's poor play, the UK coach said, "To be honest with you, he's always good. He always competes at a high level, and goes after every rebound, every ball."
Kidd-Gilchrist scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in a team-high 37 minutes. Calipari noted that the heralded freshman does not dwell on scoring.
"He doesn't whine about not getting the ball offensively," Calipari said. "Like today, he had (five) shots. Are you kidding me? A kid that plays that hard?"
Davis posted his fifth straight double-double. He scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. His seven blocks enabled him to again flirt with a triple-double.
"Those two, every once in a while, I go hug them and give them a kiss and tell them I love them," Calipari said. "What else are you going to say to them? They just bring it every time we play."
For what's believed to be the first time, a contestant won the $10,000 prize for making a half-court shot.
Vincent Swope, a UK freshman and Henry Clay High School graduate, made the shot.
"It looked good," he said. "It felt good. ... I can't believe it. Going into it, I was nervous. When I let it go, I felt good."
Swope, the son of former Lexington television newswoman Valeria Cummings, is a sports broadcasting major. He said he planned to use the money to help repay student loans.
Kentucky had outrebounded its previous five opponents by an average of 15.4. But South Carolina joined Kansas and Portland as the only opponents to outrebound the Cats. South Carolina also joined Old Dominion and Indiana as the only opponents to score more second-chance points.
When asked to explain his team's advantage in rebounding (32-30) and second-chance points (15-4), South Carolina Coach Darrin Horn said, "Effort."
A moment later, Horn added, "Just focusing on it. We have a SEC team. We have terrific athleticism. ... It was a huge focus for us."
Walk-on Sam Malone's knee surgery Wednesday went well, the player's father wrote in an email.
"In Sam's usual way, he is battling his way back ... ," Joe Malone wrote. "Despite the pain, he is remaining very strong and positive."
The younger Malone underwent his fourth major knee surgery in the last five years. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament against Chattanooga.
■ Davis' seven blocks increased his total to 74. That moved him into sixth place on UK's single-season list. The record of 83 is shared by Andre Riddick (1993-94) and Melvin Turpin (1982-83).
Miller's four points increased his career total to 1,014. That's one more than Ron Mercer on UK's career list.
■ Twany Beckham sat out the game because of a stomach ailment, UK said.