UK basketball notes: Baylor radio voice regrets missing chance to return to Kentucky

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 30, 2012 

  • 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

Baylor basketball's radio play-by-play announcer, John Morris, grew up in Danville as a Kentucky fan. So it's easy to understand his disappointment in not being able to call the Bears' game at UK on Saturday.

Instead, Morris will be in Waco to call Baylor's football game against visiting Oklahoma State. A noon EST kickoff foiled his idea to call both the football and basketball games.

"I'm just sick to miss the opportunity," he said earlier this week.

Morris, 53, has called Baylor games since 1995. He lived in Danville from the fifth grade through a 1977 graduation from Danville High.

"My parents both went to Baylor," he said of attending Baylor. "So I had heard about it."

A January trip from Danville, which was icy and cold, to Waco, where it was sunny and 72 degrees, clinched the decision to attend Baylor.

Morris grew up a Kentucky fan listening to Cawood Ledford call games.

"I was really looking forward to going to Lexington," he said.

Instead, Rick May, who calls Baylor's women's basketball, will call the game at UK.

Morris has the memory of calling Baylor's game against Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. "A real thrill," he said. He's already noted that there's no football conflict with UK's game against Baylor next season scheduled for Dec. 13, 2013, in Cowboys Stadium.

Not too small

Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson, a 5-foot-10 senior, was voted Big 12 Pre-season Player of the Year.

"Being small my whole life, people were telling me what I couldn't do," he said. "I really hated it."

Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring (20.3 ppg), assists (6.7 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1), recalled being told he was too short to make the high school varsity team (he did) or play in junior college (he led the College of Southern Idaho to a national championship) or start for Baylor (his 223 assists last season were the second most in school history).

"It just helps me," Jackson said of the doubts.

UK Coach John Calipari is a believer. "He's tremendous," he said of Jackson.

'Kind of personal'

Kentucky won't be the only team with a metaphorical chip on its shoulder. Jackson noted the lasting sting of Baylor's 82-70 loss to the Cats in the 2012 NCAA Tournament East Region finals.

"I'm going to take it kind of personal," said Jackson, who scored 21 points and handed out five assists against UK. "I didn't like to see my seniors go out with a loss."

When asked why UK won, Jackson said, "They had some great players. There were a lot of matchup problems. (And) they just outworked us in the first 20 minutes."

Kentucky led 42-22 at halftime.

"Something we learned," Jackson said. "We've got to start off strong. We can't start ole' and start off soft."

Injury update

Shooting guard Brady Heslip missed Baylor's game against College of Charleston last Saturday because of an appendectomy. Coach Scott Drew said Heslip's availability would be a game-time decision.

But teammate A.J. Walton voiced confidence that Heslip will play. "Oh, yeah," Walton said. "He'll be good."

The Sporting News, Lindy's and Yahoo all named Heslip as the Big 12's best shooter. In two seasons for Baylor, he's made 44.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

"If he gets it off, it's in," Calipari said.

In the NCAA Tournament last March, UK limited Heslip to two shots. He made one.

Another Baylor player, 7-foot freshman Isaiah Austin, has sprained an ankle at least twice this early season.

"It's good," he said. "I'll leave it at that."

Etc.

■ Drew on Baylor's five freshmen playing in Rupp Arena: "They've got to learn sooner or later. Sooner is better than later."

■ Jackson on UK's 55-game home winning streak: "It's great. It goes to show you they really take pride in protecting their home court."

■ Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will call the game for CBS.

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

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