LOUISVILLE — Kentucky fans, you let down Coach Cal here Monday night.
John Calipari wishes to play several "home" games in Louisville to boost the program's recruiting effort in Kentucky's largest city. But to make his case, Calipari said Sunday that he'd need a sellout when the Cats played North Carolina Asheville in Freedom Hall on Monday night.
That didn't happen. A crowd of 15,368 watched UK rout Asheville 94-57. Freedom Hall has a capacity of 19,200.
"This makes it hard," Calipari acknowledged.
The UK coach noted that the game would have drawn 24,000 if played in Rupp Arena. Administrators can cite the greater revenue possible by playing in Rupp, thus making it more difficult to sell the idea of playing "home" games anywhere else.
"I wish it'd be 19 (thousand)," Calipari said of the attendance. "Because then I could go back and it's easier" to sell the idea of playing elsewhere.
"So, yeah, believe me, when I get back, I'll have the president and A.D. (athletics director) tell me, 'Cal, stop.'
"Then you've got to stop."
But when asked if he'd stop, Calipari smiled and said, "No."
He again lobbied for more games in Freedom Hall.
"You've got to take this team to the fans," he said. "So many fans can't get in our games.
"And I think our fans in Lexington will accept that."
Cousins adjusts, improves
DeMarcus Cousins' free-throw shooting has been an adventure. He came into the game having made only half his free throws (18 of 36). He reached his nadir by making three of eight against Stanford last week in the Cancun Challenge championship game.
That game included an air ball and, he admitted, going to the line with 10 seconds left in regulation devoid of confidence.
But against Asheville, Cousins made a career-high eight in 10 attempts.
When he got back from Mexico, Cousins shot 250 free throws in a session, according to a blog entry.
"That's only the ones they tallied," he said. "I shot 500."
Cousins said he made 81 percent of the shots.
Early in the second half, Cousins' scoring attempt from the low post resulted in a foul and technical foul on Asheville's John Williams.
Cousins shot and made both technical free throws. Then he made both of the shots resulting from the foul.
Cousins and Calipari noted a change in his shooting motion. He shortened his stroke by beginning the shot with the ball near his chin.
"I had a lot of motion in my shot," Cousins said.
In the previous two games between the two teams, Kentucky romped. Then Asheville went on to have a successful season.
UK's Final Four-bound team won 105-51 on Dec. 23, 1996. That marked Asheville's most lopsided loss to that date. In the 450 games since then, the Cats have won by a larger margin only twice: 118-63 over Kentucky State in the 2001-02 season and 106-44 over Vanderbilt in 2002-03.
Asheville began an 11-game winning streak a week after the 1996 loss and went on to win the school's first Big South Conference regular-season championship.
In the 1999-2000 season, UK beat Asheville 86-41. That game was part of Asheville's 0-9 start to the season. The Bulldogs rallied to finish fourth in the Big South Conference and advanced to the league tournament finals.
UK outscored Asheville 50-16 in the paint. ... The Cats enjoyed a 36-9 advantage in points off turnovers. ... UK had 28 assists and only eight turnovers. Asheville had 10 assists and 19 turnovers.