Scoring 11 and nine points against Vanderbilt and Tennessee made for Patrick Patterson's lowest two-game production since the first two games of his freshman season.
Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie saw the metaphorical glass half-full when asked about Patterson on the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Thursday.
"Patrick had a great night although the numbers wouldn't indicate it as far as scoring points," Gillispie said of Patterson's play at Tennessee on Tuesday. "But as far as giving your team a chance to win, what he did on that particular night should be inspirational."
Besides scoring nine points, Patterson grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Nine came on the defensive board against a Tennessee team that had the SEC's best rebound margin (plus 8.6) and best offensive-rebound average (15.9 per game).
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Patterson also occupied Tennessee's interior defenders. That only made the Vols more vulnerable on the perimeter, where Meeks set UK records with 54 points and 10 three-point baskets.
During his turn on the teleconference, Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged his team's problems with perimeter defense.
"The fact that we'd been lit up by five or six guards, and you'd say that's one of our great challenges," Pearl said before adding, "I think our interior defense with Tyler (Smith) and Wayne (Chism) and Brian (Williams) is much stronger than the perimeter defense."
In the game before Kentucky came to town, Gonzaga guards Matt Bouldin (26) and Steven Gray (14) combined for 40 points against the Vols. Earlier this season, Kansas guard Sherron Collins had 26 points, Temple's Donte Christmas had 35 and Marquette's Wesley Matthews had 30.
Pearl saluted Meeks' performance as "pretty special," while also saying, "At the same time, it's a fact we struggle with perimeter defense."
After the victory at Tennessee, Patterson noted how the glare of Meeks' scoring had a distracting quality.
"I caught myself watching him at times," he said. "Coach was getting on me a bunch of times for not going to the glass for rebounds."
The nine points at Tennessee was the third time this season — and the fifth time in his UK career — that Patterson failed to reach double digits. Three days earlier against Vanderbilt, he grabbed a career-low one rebound while scoring 11 points.
Yet Gillispie said that Patterson made a winning impression in Knoxville with the many pro scouts in attendance.
"As much as they were talking about Jodie, as they should, they talked about Patrick as well for his workmanlike effort," the UK coach said. "Not too many players have the ... unselfishness and all those things he possesses as a human being to do that when you're not getting a whole lot of shots.
"My hat goes off to Patrick."
In his senior season of high school, Patterson got plenty of practice at playing while not shooting when he played with celebrated guard O.J. Mayo.
This month, Patterson had been playing with a strained tendon in a finger. X-rays after the Vanderbilt game indicated no break.
"I don't think it's going to be anything terrible, but I think it's bothered him a little lately," Gillispie said in a teleconference last week. "Hopefully he's getting better."
When asked about the finger on Wednesday, Gillispie said he noticed a reaction from Patterson when the UK big man caught the ball.
"He never would say anything," Gillispie said, "but I think it's bothering him a little bit."