In his return to Rupp Arena, Landon Slone probably had as much fun as a shooter could have in a game where he has more air balls than made baskets.
"It was fun, man," Slone said after his Pikeville College team lost to Kentucky 97-66 Monday night. "It was a fun experience. I've still got a little rust. I think that showed."
Except for a game last weekend, Slone hadn't played in a college game since leaving UK after the 2008-09 season. His nomadic basketball life took him to Morehead State, back to UK as a student and then on to Pikeville College last winter.
Given his departure from Kentucky, Slone worried that UK fans might boo him. Not a chance. The former fan favorite received polite applause when he entered the game with 18:27 left in the first half.
"I didn't hear any (boos)," he said with a smile. "I was real happy with that. It was touching to have (the applause). The (UK) program meant so much to me."
Slone fired the first of his two airballs on his initial field-goal attempt. "A little adrenaline on that one," he said. "I shot it a little too hard."
Slone didn't score until the 16:47 mark of the second half. He freed himself with a shot fake and swished a three-pointer from the left wing for his only basket.
"It was a relief," he said. "It really was. A big relief. I was getting a little worried."
Fans saw something different during the national anthem. Coach John Calipari and his assistants were barefoot.
Calipari and company were shoeless as part of the "Barefoot for Bare Feet" movement in which coaches across the country work a game barefoot in order to raise awareness and financial support for Samaritan's Feet.
Samaritan's Feet is a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing hope and new gym shoes to impoverished children in 52 countries, including the United States.
During the August exhibition series in Canada, the UK coaches participated in an event sponsored by Samaritan's Feet. They washed the feet of some children in Detroit and gave them new shoes.
Turner to rescue
Former UK point guard Wayne Turner has been the team's 11th man in practices.
Turner can help in practices because he's an undergraduate. Other staffers like Tony Delk or Rod Strickland can't participate as players because NCAA rules prohibit graduates from practicing, UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said.
Former Wildcat Ramon Harris took a bow after earlier in the day signing a contract with the National Basketball Development League and being assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Capitol Sports Management LLC, which also represents Patrick Patterson, announced Harris would play for the Vipers, a McAllen, Texas-based team that won the NBDL championship last season. The Vipers are affiliated with the Houston Rockets.
"It's a blessing to have the opportunity to continue playing basketball at a professional level" Harris said in a news release. "My goal is to play the game at its highest level in the NBA and the D-League provides a great opportunity for me to develop my game and be seen by NBA scouts every night."