Kentucky basketball notes: Big Blue Nation doesn't give opponents enough credit, Marshall coach says

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 22, 2012 

Marshall Coach Tom Herrion to Kentucky fans: Lay back, put a cold cloth on your forehead, breathe deeply, relax.

After his team lost 82-54 in Rupp Arena Saturday, Herrion tried to put UK's season into perspective.

"They're going to get better and better," he said of the Cats before adding, "In this Big Blue Nation — whatever you call yourselves, no disrespect — you can't flip the roster every year and expect (a) magic wand and it's going to happen from Game One to Game 39 or 40.

"Sometimes give respect to the team they played."

Herrion saw no shame nor crisis in Kentucky losing at Notre Dame or on a neutral floor to Duke or at home to Baylor.

"It's not always how much your team is struggling," he said. "Maybe the other team played well. ... Because of the nature of the cocoon that people live in, it's never external."

Herrion suggested that a Kentucky victory or defeat can generate an overreaction.

"Sometimes, it's like the end of the world coming if you guys don't win or you play poorly," he said.

Kentucky's status as an elite program, re-confirmed by the 2012 national championship, inspires opponents, the Marshall coach said.

"Everybody's coming after that," he said. "That's what happens when you're at the top of the food chain.

"It's not always Kentucky losing. Give the other team some credit and some respect."

'Nonsense'

Point guard Ryan Harrow acknowledged a bit of subterfuge in his attempts to fulfill Coach John Calipari's request to be a vocal leader.

"Sometimes it's instruction," he said of his on-court, in-game communication with teammates. "But sometimes it's nonsense. Because Coach is always saying to keep talking to your team. Don't get into your own self. So I've just got to be out there yelling anything."

When asked if he tries to stay out of Calipari's earshot when yelling nonsense to his teammates, Harrow said, "I don't even think he cares. As long as I'm talking, saying something that he knows that I'm trying."

Pushing Poythress

Harrow missed a three-point shot on UK's first possession of the game. Teammate Alex Poythress soared over two Marshall players to grab the rebound and score on a putback.

That Poythress does not look so dominant on a more consistent basis caught Calipari's attention. Before the first TV timeout, the UK coach replaced Poythress with Kyle Wiltjer.

Foul trouble helped limit Poythress to a season-low 21 minutes. He tied a career high with nine rebounds.

"Play the whole game the way you're playing in spurts," Calipari said. "Just do it. There's no excuse why you stop on plays. Just quit playing when the ball is in play?! There's no excuse."

Calipari noted a sequence when a Marshall player beat Poythress to a rebound.

"How did you let him get it?" the UK coach said before mimicking Poythress' response as, "'Well, I don't know.'"

To which, Calipari said, "I know. He outworked you. You weren't ready to make that play."

'Hug your kids'

After wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Calipari made a reference to the recent mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"Hug your kids," the UK coach said. "We know what just went on up in Connecticut. Hug your kids. Hug your wife. Hug your spouse."

Jon Hood

An upper respiratory illness caused Jon Hood to miss the game, UK said.

Calipari declined to elaborate nor shed light on the nature of Hood's illness.

Birthday wish

UK fan Ty Hart sat with her husband Michael in the front row near mid-court. The game was part of her 66th birthday.

She said her husband promised to give her whatever she wanted for her birthday. Trip to the Bahamas? Dinner and dancing?

She chose to attend the UK-Marshall game.

Etc.

By shooting 29.5 percent, Marshall became the fourth straight UK opponent to make less than 40 percent of its shots. ... Nerlens Noel posted his first double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. ... UK's nine turnovers were its fewest since — brace yourself — committing only six in the high-paced 102-90 victory over Indiana in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

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

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