Kentucky sophomore Kyle Wiltjer could not have asked for a more open three-point shot. Nor a better catch-and-shoot opportunity.
Except he didn't take that particular shot against Portland last weekend.
Although free to take a three-point shot in transition, Wiltjer waited for the defender to approach. Then he drove by the Portland player and made a layup while being fouled by a help-defender.
No coincidence that Wiltjer passed up the open shot and drove to the basket. He confirmed Friday that the decision — and the resulting three-point play — reflected his effort to snap out of a shooting slump.
"Trying to be more aggressive," he said. "Trying to get easier baskets. Mix it up a little bit."
Going into the Portland game, Wiltjer had made four of his previous 27 three-point attempts. In the most recent four games, he'd made only eight of 32 shots from any distance.
Until the Portland game, more than half of Wiltjer's shots came from three-point range (78 of 154). His eight shots against the Pilots included three from beyond the arc (which marked the first time since the Duke game that less than half his shots were threes).
Wiltjer cited Portland's defensive strategy as another factor in driving more to the basket.
"Kind of how they played me," he said. "They knew I could shoot, so they closed out hard."
Wiltjer, whose 12 points marked his highest total since getting 23 against Lafayette, did not "settle" for the three-point attempt, he said.
Freshman Archie Goodwin had a quick answer when asked to name UK's most competitive player.
"Me," he said.
When a reporter suggested other UK players might nominate themselves for such a designation, Goodwin said, "If they told you they are, they're lying."
In its eight games, Lipscomb has committed 150 turnovers. In a 91-45 loss at Mississippi on Nov. 23, the Bisons had eight assists and 26 turnovers.
"Mainly, it's been our non-ball-handling guys," Coach Scott Sanderson said. "It's been more post guys. We've worked on that this week" to try to put the big guys in positions where turnovers are less likely.
At Ole Miss, starting guards Khion (KEE-on) Sankey and Deonte Alexander combined for two assists and 12 turnovers.
Lipscomb's leading scorers are twins Malcolm and Martin Smith, who average 13.0 and 12.0 points respectively.
Sanderson said Malcolm might not play at UK. The player missed the game against Tennessee-Martin last weekend after being poked in the eye during a practice last week.
UK fans No. 1
Lipscomb won 74-69 at Indiana in 2008-09, Tom Crean's first season as IU coach. The Bisons have also played at North Carolina and Arizona.
Still, Sanderson felt compelled to try to make sure his players don't get caught up in the aura of Rupp Arena.
"Kentucky's the best just because of the fans there," the Lipscomb coach said. "They don't necessarily come to see who they play. They come to see Kentucky. There's a difference there than at a lot of the major schools across the country."
Sanderson recalled attending a recent high school hoopfest at Marshall County.
"Kentucky people packed the place," he said. "I'm not saying other places don't. But there's just a different air, a different passion about (UK fans)."
Go west young women
UK's women's team, 8-1 and ranked No. 7, heads west to play at Pepperdine on Tuesday and UC Santa Barbara on Friday of next week.
Coach Matthew Mitchell described the trip as a homecoming of sorts for players Brittany Henderson (Pasadena) and DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.).
The trip will not be all work, Mitchell said. The UK team plans to tour Warner Brothers studio and attend a Clippers-Hornets game in the Staples Center.
Dave Baker and Rupp Runt Larry Conley will call the UK-Lipscomb game for Fox Sports North.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com