Kentucky, LSU motivated for rematch

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 21, 2014 Updated 5 hours ago


    Kentucky vs. Wisconsin

    When: 8:49 p.m. Saturday

    Location: Indianapolis

    TV: TBS

    Radio: WLAP-AM 630 and WBUL-FM 98.1

    Records: No. 1 seed Kentucky 37-0; No. 1 seed Wisconsin 35-3

Revenge, a concept as old as history itself, was on James Young's mind as he spoke with media types on the eve of Saturday's Kentucky-LSU rematch.

"It was pretty bad," he said of UK's 87-82 loss in Baton Rouge last month. "We didn't come out to play as well as we should have. And we took them lightly.

"... We're going to have to give them a little payback when they get here."

Revenge is Biblical (an eye for an eye). Revenge is secular (Aaron Burr, Richard Nixon, Lorena Bobbitt).

It's in human DNA, although John Calipari reacted to the notion of Kentucky making amends against LSU with a shrug.

"Play the game," he said. "Throw the ball up."

Less talk, more action.

Calipari equated revenge with egocentric desire (setting aside his often-repeated calls for UK defenders to take opponents' attempts to score as a personal insult). The hardest thing for a coach is to get players to think beyond themselves, he said.

"Their inner dialogue," the UK coach called it. "That it's good for us rather than (merely) themselves. That they stay in a positive light."

As always, Kentucky will not be the only team on the court, Calipari reminded reporters.

"I would imagine LSU is really motivated to play this one, too," he said.

When LSU beat Kentucky on Jan. 28, the Tigers seemed poised to burst onto the national scene. "I think it was a launching pad for us," leading scorer and rebounder Johnny O'Bryant III said. "We've not done a good job taking advantage of our opportunities."

LSU has gone 3-3 since beating Kentucky. The three losses were all on the road (at Georgia, at Texas A&M, at Arkansas) and all by double-digit margins.

"We had so many opportunities to step up and really make a name for ourselves," O'Bryant said. "We've let some slip away. We still have good opportunities. You have to take advantage of what's in front of you, and we haven't done that."

O'Bryant cited two factors in LSU's failure to launch:

■ Poor defense. Georgia, A&M and Arkansas shot a collective 50.6 percent in beating LSU, and made 25 of 49 three-point attempts.

■ O'Bryant's tendency to be foul-prone. He fouled out in playing a season-low 14 minutes at Georgia. That started a streak of fouling out of three of the five most recent games.

"I have to be in the game if this team wants to win," O'Bryant said, "especially on the road against tough teams."

Against Kentucky, O'Bryant scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

"Johnny O'Bryant was really good," Calipari said before adding, "but he wasn't the only guy to outplay us. They outrebounded us. They outcoached us. They outran us. They got us (in transition). They got us every which way but loose."

Freshman Jordan Mickey, who leads the Southeastern Conference in blocks (3.4 per game), helped LSU blunt Kentucky's inside strength with five blocks. Overall, LSU's 11 blocks were the most by a UK opponent in Calipari's five seasons as coach.

Another freshman, Jarell Martin, blocked three shots and scored nine points.

"I think you have to use what you can from it," LSU Coach Johnny Jones said of the first game against Kentucky. "Our guys have to be excited that they've had success, so you understand the possibilities that are there if you play well. You do a lot of things that you did last time that worked for you, execute well and do things on the defensive end that were helpful for us. You can point to those things, but you have to understand that there are going to be times where you just have to be that much better the second time around playing a team of that caliber on their floor to have success."

Julius Randle voiced indifference to LSU's struggles since beating Kentucky.

"Man, I can't worry about them," UK's star freshman said. "I just worry about us. If they lost games, oh well, that's not my problem."

Kentucky's task is to make a freshman-oriented team reach its full potential.

When asked why Kentucky took victory over LSU for granted the first time, Young said, "I just heard from a couple guys who played here before, saying they're not good, and stuff like that.

"So I just came out there and didn't really take them like they were going to come out and play hard. And they did."

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

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