UK basketball notes: Good luck finding flaws, Calipari says

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 3, 2012 

Kentucky's Darius Miller (1) , Eloy Vargas (30) joined the bench during a time out in the first half of the Georgia at Kentucky men's basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on March 1, 2012. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

LEXINGTON 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

Kentucky Coach John Calipari scoffed at the supposed weaknesses his team will have going into the NCAA Tournament.

"People want to talk about our bench," he said Saturday. "I'm almost like, 'Man, are you just trying to grab at anything?'"

Calipari saluted senior Darius Miller and freshman Kyle Wiltjer as sufficient reserve power.

"I've got two players coming off the bench who could score 25," the UK coach said. "If somebody else has two ... tell me who they are?"

The other supposed weakness is three-point shooting, Calipari said.

"We don't rely on it," he said. "Yet, we're one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league."UK ranks second among Southeastern Conference teams in three-point accuracy (41.3 percent).

"If we make 15 (threes), we beat you by 30," Calipari said. "If we make five, it appears we're going to beat you, anyway."

Teague endorses Davis

Marquis Teague endorsed teammate Anthony Davis as the National Player of the Year. He did not hesitate nor qualify his endorsement.

"To me, I think he is," Teague said. "Our whole team thinks he is. He dominates every game. He never has a bad game."

Florida Coach Billy Donovan said of Davis: "He's obviously an extraordinary shot blocker and as good of a shot blocker as I've seen, being in the league as long as I have."

Donovan became Florida coach in the 1996-97 season.

Live three or die

In SEC play, 45.1 percent of Florida's shots are three-point attempts.

Teague agreed with a reporter's suggestion that the Gators rise or fall on the three-point shot.

"They shoot a lot of threes," Teague said. "Basically, yeah, I think they live and die (on the three-pointer). If they're hitting, you have a serious problem."

In the first meeting, UK held Florida to a then season-low of six treys. The Gators made only five (of 23) in a loss at Georgia last weekend.

"We just contest with high hands, try to pressure them (and) make them take tough shots," Teague said of containing Florida's three-point shooters. " ... Try to send them into our shot-blockers."

Pondering a worst-case scenario, Calipari said Florida could make 25 threes and beat Kentucky. Florida's season-high is 14 threes. The Gators have made 10 or more in 19 of 30 games.

No Yeguete

Florida is 0-2 since reserve Will Yeguete sustained a season-ending broken bone in a foot. Coincidence?

"Billy won't make any excuses," said Dino Gaudio, the former Wake Forest coach who now serves as an analyst for the SEC network. "I really think they're going to miss the big kid, Will Yeguete. Because he is an energy guy. He brings enthusiasm off the bench.

"He's one of their two best press players. He's wonderful at the front of that press."

Yeguete, a 6-7 sophomore, averaged only 4.4 points. But he averaged 6.3 rebounds despite playing only 21.9 minutes per game.

The injury weakened an already thin Florida front line that doesn't go much past Patric Young. In SEC play, the Gators' leading rebounder is freshman guard Bradley Beal (7.0).

Of Yeguete's absence, Calipari said, "That hurts them."

Perhaps grabbing at anything, the UK coach suggested that Yeguete's injury could be a plus by allowing Florida to use a lineup that features five three-point shooters.

Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton rank second and fifth, respectively, on Florida's career list for three-pointers. Forward Erik Murphy has made 43.4 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

No pressure

Terrence Jones noted the relative lack of pressure on any individual UK player to produce.

"Every player is stepping up," he said. "You know you don't have that much depending on you."

'Pride game'

Calipari acknowledged that the UK-Florida game, however entertaining, will be relatively meaningless. UK has sewn up the league championship and, he said, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

"One way to look at it, you say it has no bearing on anything," Calipari said of the game at Florida. "Will we show up and play? ... It's a pride game."

Senior Day

Florida will honor Walker, its lone senior.

"Incredible career for a guy his size," Donovan said of Walker, who Florida lists at 5-8.

Walker needs 13 three-point baskets to surpass Lee Humphrey as Florida's career leader. He's made 276, but only 13 (in 44 attempts) against Kentucky.

Etc.

The Kentucky Theatre will show the UK-Florida game on its movie screen. Admission is free.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service