Scoring 102 points in beating Tennessee State on Monday night did not satisfy Coach Billy Gillispie, who sniffed at the team's third 100-point game of the season. The average of 81.3 points (UK's highest since Rick Pitino left town for the Boston Celtics)? Inadequate.
When it comes to pace, Gillispie wants a faster game than Kentucky's played so far this season.
"I think we play too slow, to be honest with you," Gillispie said in his post-game news conference. "Like every possession of every single game, I want to push it as hard as we can."
A fast pace would be part of a style of play Gillispie envisioned when he became Kentucky coach in 2007. He spoke of pressuring opponents on both ends of the floor: suffocating defense and unrelenting offense.
This was music to the ears of UK fans who have made no secret of missing the high-energy Pitino style (which crested with an average of 91.4 points in the national championship season of 1995-96).
"I want all-out every single time," Gillispie said of his desired pace. "Sprint every single time. That's pretty hard to do. But we can rest them a little more than in the past."
If anyone got the wrong idea, Gillispie added, "We're not going to be crazy about rest."
Rest is the opposite of what Kentucky wants to inflict on the opposition.
Kentucky wants to dictate pace and force opponents out of their practiced comfort.
After the Tennessee State game, Gillispie spoke of the importance of big men setting a fast pace. When Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson and Josh Harrellson run the floor, it causes defenses to collapse around the basket. The defenders have been taught to "protect the basket, protect the basket, protect the basket," Gillispie said.
This frees up, say, Jodie Meeks for open perimeter shots in transition.
"It's a huge key," Patterson said of the big men running. "The coaches, they know we can run the floor. We can beat our opponents in transition."
The UK coaches sell the big men on running by noting how transition baskets count, too. An inflated scoring average makes for a powerful incentive.
When asked how the UK coaches get the big men to run in practice, Patterson made it sound easy.
"They just tell us to run, and we run," he said. "If we don't run, maybe we run suicides at the end of practice. But that hasn't happened yet. We don't want to see what happens if we don't run."
Of course, the ball-handler plays a big part in any running attack. He has to keep up the pace, plus reward his teammates with passes. When the point guard runs, the wings and big men run to get scoring passes.
Freshman DeAndre Liggins has shown an ability to push the pace.
The surprise might be starter Michael Porter, who at first glance might not seem well suited for a fast pace.
"Mike realizes he's better when we push it," Gillispie said. "It creates space for him and he needs space."
"It is a lot easier for me when I push it," he said. "It is just more the way I want to play. I can kind of free myself from my defender. I am not really ... a one-on-one guy, so I do like pushing the ball. I have done that all of my life."
A running game includes defense. If a team is continually taking the ball out of the basket after the opponent scores, the pace cannot be consistently quick. So far, opponents are shooting with only 36.3-percent accuracy. If that pace if maintained, you'd have to go back to 1959-60 to find a season when UK's opponents shot with lesser accuracy: 36.1.
Gillispie suggested the pace can get faster and the defense better going forward.
"I love to watch a great defensive team when it's really helping each other and talking," the UK coach said. "It's all generated by talking and communicating because they've done it time and time again in practice. They understand where they're supposed to be.
"I think we can get a lot better."