Georgia-UK notes: As expected, UK fans brave the elements to pack Rupp

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 25, 2014 

Coal miner Nickey Hardison and Derrick Moore, a deputy sheriff, drove from Muhlenberg County on Saturday morning to attend Kentucky's game against Georgia.

Because of the weather, the trip took more than two hours longer than normal. They passed "four or five" wrecks along the road.

"About half way here, we looked at each other and said, 'We're crazy," Moore said.

Crazy like a Cat fan.

Despite below-freezing temperatures and several inches of snow overnight, UK fans filled Rupp Arena.

This surprised no one.

"I can't imagine it not being full," said Kim Isbill, who drove from Owensboro on Friday to beat the weather. She sat with her 12-year-old son, Jonathan, and her father, Robert Ward. The game was Jonathan's birthday present.

"No matter what," Isbill said, "we were coming."

When asked before the game how many fans would brave the weather, Tammy Shannon said, "What's the capacity?"

Told Rupp seats 23,000, she said, "I'd say 21,300."

UK announced the attendance as 23,367.

That fulfilled fan Debbie James' expectation.

"Oh, I think it'll be the regular crowd," she said about an hour before tipoff. "(The weather) won't change a thing. It's Kentucky basketball."

Georgia Coach Mark Fox was not surprised by the full house. When asked to comment on the attendance, he said, "You want me to comment on the fan base here? They don't need any more pats on the back than they already get."

What a kidder

That John Calipari, what a kidder.

When asked if he'd noticed how the referees had called UK games differently since the loss at Arkansas, Calipari said, "I barely pay attention to it."

This theater of the absurd caused media types to laugh.

Earlier this season, Calipari repeatedly endorsed the move to call more fouls in an attempt to reduce physical play and produce more scoring. The more fouls, the better, he said. Players and coaches must adapt.

More than once this year, Calipari has lamented how collapsing defenders got away with "whacking" Julius Randle in the low post. He likened Randle to Shaquille O'Neal, each a big man who draws no sympathy nor calls from referees.

After Kentucky lost at Arkansas, Calipari lamented how "fate" intervened. When asked if fate blew a whistle in the game, Calipari simply repeated how fate affected the outcome.

Referees called 31 fouls against UK at Arkansas. That equaled a season high. In three home games since then, the referees have called an average of 18.7 fouls on the Cats. Short-handed

Georgia played without two of its regular contributors: starting guard Kenny Gaines (12.0 ppg) and his backup, freshman Juwan Parker. They sat out the game because of a thigh bruise and sore hamstring, respectively.

"We had no two-guards," Fox said. "Not one. So that had an impact on how we had to play, quite frankly. We had to, basically, play three 'bigs' most of the game. We couldn't play man defense because we couldn't match up there. And it made us a little slow in transition in which they outran us.

"So it impacted the game. But it's part of it. You've got to deal with injury."

Twins

Calipari welcomed how Aaron Harrison took more two-point shots (six of eight) than three-pointers (zero for two).

"I don't want him shooting threes," Calipari said. "If you shoot a couple, that's fine. But you're not shooting six or seven threes. That's not who we are as a team."

Calipari noted how twin brother Andrew Harrison needed to not react to a missed shot.

"When he got upset about the one (miss), put his head down, I took him out," Calipari said. "It's a great shot. You missed it. But you're going to have an attitude-head down on that? ...

"Now, you don't see it as much anymore. They understand. Just play for your team. Take the shots you're supposed to take."

Mental discipline

Calipari identified "mental discipline" as the next hurdle to cross in the UK team development.

"That means don't hold the ball," he said. "That means play with energy off the ball. ...

"Then the next level is the discipline (on offense and defense). That one is going to be a little longer for us to crack, but we're getting better."

Etc.

UK made 16 of 20 free throws. In the last three games, the Cats have made 80.3 percent of their free throws (57 of 71). Willie Cauley-Stein made two of two against Georgia. ... Calipari's home record as UK coach improved to 80-2. ... Georgia outrebounded Kentucky 35-32. The Bulldogs joined Tennessee and Baylor as the only teams to outrebound UK this season.

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

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