UK basketball notes: Julius Randle nonchalant about another monster game

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 18, 2014 

OXFORD, Miss. — His latest monster game left Julius Randle unmoved. That surely made him a solitary figure in Tad Smith Coliseum on Tuesday night.

"It doesn't matter," he said of his 25 points and 13 rebounds. both of which led Kentucky in an 84-70 victory over Ole Miss.

Probably, Randle did not want to take bows, especially with UK looking to regroup after the loss to Florida. Emphasis on group, as in we're all in this together.

"It's what coach asks me to do," Randle said. "Rebound. Run the floor. Play really hard. Defend any position. Just bring energy. Be a great teammate, and the rest will take care of itself."

Randle got his 14th double-double, his third in a row after starting the season with seven in a row.

Maybe more importantly, Randle got to the foul line 14 times. He came in the game averaging only 5.8 free-throw attempts a game in Southeastern Conference play. That wasn't a whole lot more than Ole Miss perimeter gunner Marshall Henderson (3.3 free throw attempts per SEC game).

Randle attributed hitting 13 free throws, which included 10 of 10 in the final 6:40, to something simple.

"Just confidence," he said. "The biggest thing going to the foul line is you've got to get bad thoughts out of your mind, that you may miss. You've got to think you're going up there and knocking it down. We wanted to make free throws because we knew we'd make them."

UK made 19 straight down the stretch.

Henderson misfires

Stick fans with a photograph of Henderson's face were distributed to, well, fans entering Tad Smith Coliseum.

When asked if it was Marshall Henderson Night, an Ole Miss fan said, "It's Marshall Henderson Night every night here."

The game was another example of how mightily Henderson struggles against taller UK defenders who consistently switch out on him. He made only five of 17 shots (five of 14 from three-point range). That made him 16 of 54 (11 of 37 from beyond the arc) in three games against Kentucky in his career.

"Marshall's going to be Marshall," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. After reciting Henderson's horrible shooting accuracy against UK, he added, "That's why he's 0 for three."

No big deal

Aaron Harrison, who had made only seven of 30 shots in the last three games, made six of 13 and finished with 17 points.

He shrugged off an Ole Miss comeback that reduced a one-time 22-point UK lead to six with 1:48 left.

"Lack of focus, probably," he said. "We probably got a little fatigued as well. ...

"Every team makes a run. They started hitting some shots we knew they could make. That was no big deal."

Big deal

Hard to believe Kentucky can play better than the first half. The Cats shot 58.6 percent, dominated the boards 21-9 and led 42-25 at intermission.

"That's probably how every team wants to play every game," Aaron Harrison said. "And it's not going to happen. You're always going to have bad games or not have energy."

New arena

Ole Miss expects to begin construction on a new arena this spring. The school hopes the arena will open no later than January of 2016.

Pledges and cash totalling about $95 million are in place, Ole Miss said.

Etc.

Kennedy was denied a chance to tie Billy Donovan and Wimp Sanderson for third place on a list of coaches with the most wins in their first eight seasons at an SEC school. He remained at 168. Donovan and Sanderson had 169. The leaders are Rick Pitino (219) and Joe B. Hall (183). ... Calipari achieved a 20th victory for a 20th straight season.

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

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