Although playing on a more balanced team has deflated Patrick Patterson's statistics, Kentucky Coach John Calipari continued to say less is way more for his junior forward.
"His (NBA) stock is going through the roof," Calipari said. "The butcher and barber are looking for one thing. The NBA is looking for another."
The butcher and barber see career-low scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) averages, plus a player on pace for his fewest blocks (20 in 21 games).
But Calipari said the NBA sees a more versatile player (13-for-31 three-point shooting), not a player too small to be locked into the post on the NBA level.
The UK coach saluted Patterson for quietly working to improve while critics crunch those numbers and see less of a player.
"He's like the best players I've coached," Calipari said. "When they play poorly, they don't blame. They go within. (Patterson said) I'm going to go crazy. I'll make the simple play because I'm struggling."
UK's game against LSU represents a homecoming for senior forward Perry Stevenson.
Stevenson, who grew up 57 miles from Baton Rouge in Lafayette, La., said he would need 15 tickets for family members and friends.
Despite his upbringing, Stevenson said he would be rooting for the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
"I just like Peyton Manning," he said. "I like the way he prepares himself."
LSU will be the fourth opponent to play Kentucky on one day's rest. (Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi were the others.) UK will play five league opponents playing their second game in three days.
"If you're good, it doesn't matter what you're doing," LSU Coach Trent Johnson said. "More than anything, it's mental so much more than it is physical, sometimes."
A close loss to Tennessee on Thursday hurt LSU's ability to play again within 48 hours, Johnson said.
"I haven't even seen any of the guys today, but I suspect they are down because they competed hard against a very good team," the LSU coach said. "I have to do a good job of getting them back on board. We are going to have a light workout today, and probably walk through a lot of stuff. There's nothing else you can do to get ready for this team because you can't simulate their length and quickness."
LSU's lone star, forward Tasmin Mitchell, dismissed fatigue as a factor.
"It's not exhausting, but what's been exhausting all year is losing," he said.
Mitchell nears 2,000
Mitchell needs 144 points to become the 24th Southeastern Conference player to score 2,000 in his career.
After noting the two SEC titles and Final Four appearance on Mitchell's résumé, Johnson saluted his senior forward's ability to play on a much less talented team this season.
"He's remained positive and committed to his team and school," the LSU coach said.
"Everything Tasmin has done has been from skill, knowing how to play and studying the game. Not to mention, he's played inside and outside. For me, just the short time being around him in two years, I can attest to the person and caliber player he is. And how hard he has worked."
Calipari noted how Mitchell is a tough matchup. The player can use his 6-foot-7 size against smaller defenders and his skill against larger defenders, the UK coach said.
Wall a finalist
John Wall is among 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which annually recognizes the best guard in college basketball. The list of finalists, which was announced Friday, will be reduced to five by March 1. Then Cousy and a selection committee will choose the winner.
The award will be given to the winner at the Final Four.
The 11 finalists are Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga; Sherron Collins, Kansas; Devan Downey, South Carolina; Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin; Jeremy Lin, Harvard; Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; Ronald Moore, Siena; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova; Jon Scheyer, Duke; Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, and Wall.
■ LSU is threatening to become only the ninth team to go through an SEC schedule without a victory. That hasn't happened since Georgia Tech went 0-14 in 1953-54.
■ LSU has an 0-4 home record in league play. The Tigers have lost those games by an average margin of nine points.
■ With Kentucky winning the race to 2,000 victories, attention can turn to the race for second place on the list of winningest programs. Going into this weekend, North Carolina had 1,997 victories and third-place Kansas had 1,991.
■ Carter Blackburn and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried will call Saturday's game for the SEC Network.