LSU-UK notes: Cats ditch jump shots for drives

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 22, 2014 

Kentucky did not make a jump shot in the second half or overtime. Its only three-pointer came with 9:37 left in the first half. One of UK's last baskets from the perimeter, if not the last one, was Aaron Harrison's pull-up jumper with 8:18 left in the first half.

Despite an offense almost solely dependent on drives to the basket, which resulted in field goals and/or free throws, Kentucky beat LSU 77-76 in overtime.

Maybe that was why Julius Randle dismissed the importance of that basic basketball skill: the jump shot.

When asked if the continuing absence of jump shooting might be dangerous, he said, "Not dangerous because we're an attacking team. We don't rely on our jump shot.

"If we're making jump shots and we're making threes, that's a plus. But that's not our game. So I don't think it's dangerous at all."

After the game, UK Coach John Calipari acknowledged how his team relied almost exclusively on driving the ball to the basket.

"Well, you have to understand what we were telling them every timeout, which was 'Drive the ball. Do not settle,'" he said.

Calipari noted that LSU strongman Johnny O'Bryant III, who has struggled with foul trouble this season, picked up his fourth foul with 2:18 left in the second half.

"He was not going to foul," Calipari said. "So he may put his hands up. Sometimes he got out of the way."

Andrew Harrison's two jumpers in the final minutes of the second half prompted corrective advice.

"I'm like, 'Why did you shoot a jumper?'" Calipari recalled saying. "'Drive it.'"

UK extended its streak of making at least one three-point basket to 887 games. The last time the Cats made only one three-pointer also came against LSU, in the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament.

I'm OK-He's OK

Late in the first half, Aaron Harrison took an ugly-looking fall after being bumped by O'Bryant. The crowd reacted with anger at the LSU player. After checking the monitor, the referees called nothing more than a common foul.

Harrison endorsed the decision.

"I pointed to Andrew (Harrison) to throw me the lob," he said. "But I didn't really see Johnny O'Bryant right there. And he's a big guy. ...

"I know he didn't do it on purpose. We were both going for the ball, and he bumped me."

Harrison said he did not expect any long-lasting injury.

"No, not really a headache," he said. "My neck is really stiff and really sore."

His brother also absolved O'Bryant of any ill intent.

"He didn't do that on purpose," he said. "He was just playing hard."

Celebrate!

After LSU failed to get off a final shot, Randle broke into a smile. Then several teammates mobbed him in what became a pile of happy players.

""We won!" Andrew Harrison said of the on-court celebration. "People look at us the wrong way, I think. ... But we're coming together. We all love each other. And, at the end of the game, we didn't care who shot the ball or nothing like that. We won. That's our reaction."

Randle noted the relief that comes with winning a hotly contested game.

"To be finally relieved that we won," he said. "It's a great feeling."

Hands up

Usually when UK big men switched out on the opposition's guards, there was difficulty getting off a shot.

LSU's Anthony Hickey had no such problem. Hickey, who had made 16 of 33 three-point shots in the five most recent games, made four of nine against UK.

"We had our hands down," said Randle, who was one of the defenders burned by Hickey. "He was able to get a look at the rim. With a player like that, you can't let that happen."

Learning from experience, Randle kept a hand up to prevent Hickey from getting a good shot off at the end of regulation.

"He's six-foot tall or less," Calipari said of Hickey. "You're seven-foot tall, and you make yourself six-foot-two by doing this (held hands below the press conference table). ... Now all of a sudden, you're his size."

Calipari noted that Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein were tardy in getting hands up to contest Hickey's shots.

"The ball is already over your head ... ," Calipari said. "Well, your hand wasn't up."

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

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