UK basketball notes: Inclement weather puts LSU game in doubt

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 27, 2014 

LSU coach Johnny Jones gave an official an earful in January 2013, when Kentucky beat the Tigers, 75-70, in Lexington.

PHOTO BY MARK CORNELISON | STAFF — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

With a winter storm warning in effect beginning at 6 a.m. CST, LSU Coach Johnny Jones did not rule out the possibility that Tuesday night's game against Kentucky could be postponed.

"I'm not sure if the game will go off tomorrow or Wednesday," Jones told reporters Tuesday. "The weather is certainly going to have a lot to do with that."

The National Weather Service in New Orleans issued a winter storm warning for ice and snow accumulations. That warning was scheduled to be in effect from 6 a.m. CST Tuesday to 6 a.m. CST Wednesday.

Precipitation was expected in the form of freezing rain, sleet or snow across most or all of the Baton Rouge area. Citizens were warned of hazardous travel conditions and significant risk of tree limbs and power lines falling. LSU, Southeastern Conference and governmental officials must weigh safety concerns for fans.

"I think at the end of the day, the commissioner of our league will have to determine whether the game will be played or not," Jones said. "Then, what will override that would be if our governor (Bobby Jindal) should decide the game shouldn't be played in the state of Louisiana or in Baton Rouge because of the inclement weather and the danger. That would override any other decisions."

There is a precedent for Louisiana's governor to be involved in decisions about LSU athletic events. Because of hurricane-related concerns, four LSU football games have been off the scheduled times or sites since 2005.

The LSU Athletics Department announced that as of 5:30 p.m. EST Monday, plans for the LSU-Kentucky game in the Maravich Center were moving forward as scheduled. The UK team arrived Monday. LSU spokesman Kent Lowe said that ESPN personnel and at least two of the three referees were expected to be in Baton Rouge on Monday night.

The nationally televised game is scheduled to tip off a few minutes after 9 p.m.

UK Coach John Calipari said his team would be more concerned with getting out of Baton Rouge after the game. But whatever the unknowns caused by the weather, he suggested that there was one certainty.

"Our fans will get there," Calipari said.

'Love the grind'

Forward Julius Randle said he and his UK teammates have embraced the notion of trying to improve methodically day by day.

"The biggest thing is we've learned to enjoy and love the grind," he said. "And the process. ... Love the whole process of getting better and changing habits."

Willie Cauley-Stein concurred.

"That's very accurate," he said. Cauley-Stein said that many more players are working out on their own or doing extra shooting.

"It just shows we've really bought into this and (will) try to get better every day," he said, "and try to make a run at it."

As he did after Saturday's victory over Georgia, Calipari identified "mental toughness" as the next step in Kentucky's evolutionary process. That involves accepting roles as individual players within a team concept and not making the kind of "critical errors" that sank the Cats at Arkansas.

"They're getting better and better right in front of our eyes," Calipari said of the Cats. "The last thing is, can you sustain mental discipline for 40 minutes? ... It would be scary to see what that would look like."

Calipari said that Florida sustains its discipline that way. "It's not a spurt," he said, adding that the Gators have veteran players who have learned such discipline.

Do better

Calipari on how players can improve:

■ Alex Poythress. Take more jump shots rather than force the action on drives. "I don't mean 15 jump shots (in a game)." ... Three or four would "keep the other team honest."

Said Calipari: "He's running from his jump shot."

■ James Young. Take fewer jump shots. Two free throws in the past three games suggest a problem. "He's settles (for jumpers) and avoids contact."

'No'

When asked whether he was satisfied that Poythress had reached his potential as a player, Calipari said, "No."

Would any coach acknowledge satisfaction with any player's production?

Etc.

Brad Nessler, Dan Dakich and Shannon Spake are scheduled to call the game for ESPN.

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

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