UK basketball notes: Calipari credits Gators, faults Cats

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 12, 2013 

  • 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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kentucky's most lopsided loss since February 2009 led Coach John Calipari to salute Florida.

"They have a good team, top to bottom," Calipari said after Florida beat UK 69-52. "They don't put any bad players on the court.

"And the greatest thing is every one of them is aggressive and tough. That's where we're trying to get this (UK) group."

Kentucky had not lost by such a margin since a 77-59 setback at South Carolina on Feb. 25, 2009.

Julius Mays, who along with Willie Cauley-Stein led UK with 10 points, found it difficult to concede that Florida was the better team.

"I don't think it was anything they were doing," he said. "It was all on us. We weren't talking. We didn't have the togetherness we had at Ole Miss."

Calipari interpreted Mays' defiance as more than pride.

"He's disappointed with a couple guys' effort," the UK coach said. " ... (their) competitive spirit.

"We knew how good their team was."

In improving to 12-0 at home this season, Florida continued its dominance here. In earlier home games, the Gators had averaged 77.7 points while giving up an average of 49.4. Opponents had made 35.4 percent of their shots (28.6 percent from three-point range).

Opponents had averaged 8.5 assists and 16.5 turnovers.

Florida had made 50.4 percent of its shots (38.8 percent from three-point range).

By that standard, Kentucky performed slightly better than the norm.

Too young?

UK's starting lineup included three freshmen. Florida started three seniors and two juniors.

"Our guys looked like deer in headlights," Calipari said. "It's not what we wanted, but it's a lesson. We move on."

A few minutes later, he added, "We got a little rattled. That's what happens with young players."

Being a relatively inexperienced, freshman-dependent team is a problem to solve, Calipari said. It can be overcome.

"I had freshmen last year," Calipari said, "and we did OK."

Donovan lauds Noel

Florida Coach Billy Donovan lauded the way Nerlens Noel plays.

"I admire the way he plays and I admire his energy ... " Donovan said. "The injury came from a hustle play. And it kind of embodies who he is as a player. He's a hustle-play guy and you just feel sad if there's any kind of length or duration that he's out because I think everybody admires, in this league, coaches-wise, the way he plays the game."

Not just Harrow

Calipari acknowledged that Ryan Harrow did not play well.

Then the UK coach added, "He wasn't the only guy. We had a lot of guys not play well."

Center of attention

Florida center Patric Young posted his sixth double-double of the season. He scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, the latter one shy of his career high.

"We couldn't get near the basket on Young," Calipari said.

Young blocked four shots.

"I was a little bit concerned at the start of the game just because he picked up a foul pretty quickly," Donovan said. "And I let him play through it a little bit more than I normally would have in the past."

Young picked up a foul with 18:22 left in the first half. He did not pick up another foul.

He was "doing a really good job just being disciplined, staying down, holding his ground and holding his position," Donovan said. "He gave us a very, very good game with his effort."

'Brothers'

When asked about several UK players coming to Noel's side and helping him off the court, Mays said, "We're all brothers. Win, lose or draw. We have each other's back."

Box scare

As he arrived at his post-game news conference, Calipari asked for a box score.

"I don't know if I want to look at it, but ... " he said as his voice trailed off.

Etc.

UK seemed intent on trying to take advantage of Florida's short-handed front court. The Gators played without forward Will Yeguete. Forward Erik Murphy, who gets some mention as an SEC Player of the Year candidate, was limited to 10 points, in part, because of foul trouble. ... Noel's three blocks gave him 106. That moved him into a tie with Erick Dampier of Mississippi State for the 11th-most by an SEC player.

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

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