UK-Alabama notes

UK basketball notes: Anthony Davis looks good, listens better

Calipari praises freshman for willingness to learn

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 21, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) got a hand slap after scoring 27 points to go with 14 rebounds and 7 blocks as #2 Kentucky defeated Arkansas 86-63 on Tuesday January 17, 2012 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

For all the tangible benefits Anthony Davis produces, Kentucky Coach John Calipari noted a more esoteric contribution.

"He's been very good at letting us bring him along at a pace," Calipari said Friday. "You're not seeing a whole lot of bad stuff."

Davis, who leads all players in Southeastern Conference play in scoring (17.8 ppg), shooting (68.3 percent) and blocks (5.5 per game), has said he can do more.

In recent games, Davis has added face-the-basket shooting.

"I'm just trying to take advantage of my scoring opportunities," he said. "... Keep them honest. Coach says don't be scared to shoot."

Alabama, which plays Kentucky Saturday, has taken note of Davis.

"I think he's had a great, great year so far when you look at the numbers he's put up in league play," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. " ... I'm very impressed watching him on film, and the different ways he affects the game for his team."

Alabama big man JaMychal Green echoed his coach.

"He blocks a lot of shots," Green said of Davis, "so we just have to play smart and keep him on his toes."

'Mean and nasty'

Alabama is coming off a 69-59 loss to Vanderbilt Thursday night. That snapped the Tide's 10-game home winning streak in league play.

Vandy led by 23 points with eight minutes to go.

"They're going to be mean and nasty," Calipari said of the Tide.

The UK coach seemed to suggest playing Kentucky in Rupp Arena would inspire Alabama. He called that the "double whammy.

"So," he added, "We know what we're in for. It's going to be a hard game."Defense, defense."

Alabama and Kentucky rank among the top 10 nationally in several defensive statistics, through games of Thursday, according to the NCAA.

In points allowed, Alabama is No. 8 (56.4 ppg) and UK 21 (59.1). UK's faster pace inflates its points allowed.

In field-goal-percentage defense, Kentucky is No. 2 (35.8 percent) and Alabama No. 6 (37 percent).

The Tide is also No. 7 in three-point-percentage defense (26.9 percent).

Zero-hour, 9 p.m.

When the Vanderbilt game ended at 9 p.m. EST Thursday, Alabama's leading scorer, wing Tony Mitchell, had missed all eight of his shots in a scoreless 31-minute stint.

That marked the first time in his three college seasons and 85 games that Mitchell did not score.

"Tony's just got to stay focused and leave last night in the past," teammate JaMychal Green said Friday. "I know it's hard for him, but he's just got to go out there tomorrow, compete and do what he does best."

Mitchell and Green are co-leaders in scoring for Alabama at 13.7 ppg. Mitchell leads the Tide with 20 three-point baskets, blocks (26) and rebounding (7.4 rpg).

Block/charge

Calipari suggested the arc in the lane be moved 2 feet farther from the basket to reduce, if not eliminate, the charging call.

"Is that what you want to see when we're playing basketball?" Calipari said of charging. "Guys flying in front of people (and) flopping. I don't know if you want to see it. I don't want to see it ... .

"Play basketball! You can either guard the guy, or you can't."

By UK's count, referees have called the Cats for 41 charges. The most frequent chargers are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12) and Marquis Teague (nine).

Meanwhile, UK has drawn only nine charges.

Earlier this month, Calipari explained the disparity by noting UK's emphasis on the self-explanatory dribble-drive offense. As for the few instances of drawing charges, UK concentrates on blocking shots, he said.

Calipari also changed the example he proposed as a way to differentiate blocking from charging. Last week, he asked about defenders sliding into position before the offensive player rises off the court. On Friday, he asked about defenders sliding into position after the offensive player leaves the court.

"One hundred percent of the time, that's a block!" Calipari said with eureka gusto.

John Adams, the NCAA's national men's basketball officiating coordinator, said the same thing earlier in the week in refuting Calipari's initial argument for fewer charges called on Kentucky.

Lamb shrugs

When asked about UK's 46-game home winning streak, Doron Lamb shrugged.

"I don't really care about that," he said. "We're trying to win every game."

Calipari has noted that he began using Lamb off the bench as a way to motivate the laid-back sophomore. "I want to see a guy battle, absolutely battle," the UK coach said.

And if a player's personality is not rabid?

Calipari used the example of going after a loose ball to explain why personality traits are no excuse.

"If your personality is to not get (the loose ball), you probably should be an accountant," the UK coach said.

Etc.

Since cracking the starting lineup on Dec. 21, freshman Trevor Lacey has made eight of 26 three-point shots. Through four SEC games, Alabama ranks 10th in three-point accuracy (25.8 percent). ... Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will call the game for CBS.

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