LOUISVILLE — Barely two minutes into Kentucky's eventual 78-63 victory over Louisville on Friday, John Calipari benched Terrence Jones. The UK coach did not like how the freshman posted up too far from the basket.
"You can't catch the ball 7 feet (from the basket)," Calipari said. "He didn't want to catch it on the block at the start of the game. So I took him out."
Jones, who returned to contribute 12 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five assists, had a logical reason for his post-up position.
"Because I knew the double team was coming," he said. "So I thought me being farther away, (the defenders) would be farther and it'd be an easier pass."
When asked if he informed Calipari of his reasoning, Jones shook his head side to side. "No," he said as reporters laughed.
"Everything he says is right," Jones added, "and whatever I say is wrong."
As reporters laughed again, Jones said, "That's just how I feel."
What Calipari often says about Jones is that the freshman from Portland, Ore., might be UK's leading scorer and rebounder, but he should be much more productive.
"He's just better than he's playing," the UK coach said. "He should be getting or a hand near every rebound."
When someone suggested the game sent a message to future opponents about Kentucky's ability to win "without Terrence Jones," Calipari balked.
"We need Terrence Jones to win," the UK coach said. "If you believe (the Cats do not need Jones), you're crazy."
Liggins, Miller saluted
DeAndre Liggins made only one of seven shots and had twice as many turnovers (four) as points (two). Yet, Calipari called him the "difference in the game."
That's because Liggins hounded U of L point guard Peyton Siva, who made only two of nine shots. Calipari said he considered Siva the key player for the Cardinals.
When Preston Knowles got hot in the second half, UK switched Liggins onto him. Knowles scored three points in the final 8:57.
"That's what great basketball teams have," Calipari said of Liggins' selfless play. "They don't care about scoring and shooting."
Calipari credited Darius Miller for helping turn around the game. With U of L taking the initiative early, Miller posted up for two scores. His three-point play put the Cats ahead for good at 15-14.
Miller was "the reason there was a gap," Calipari said of UK's 35-24 halftime lead.
Later, Miller "stopped playing" and reached in for fouls that made for bench time, the UK coach said.
Teammate Brandon Knight connected Josh Harrellson's productive play with the ban Calipari imposed on the big man's Tweeting.
So when asked if a third double-double of the season earned Harrellson the right to have his tweeting privileges restored, Knight said, "I'm not sure yet. Since he got them taken away, he's been playing a lot better. The rest of the season, I say he can't get them."
Sign of the times
Louisville fans brought anti-Kentucky signs to the game on Friday. But U of L monitored the visual displays.
Mark Haggard, a security supervisor at the KFC Yum Center, said his crew removed seven signs they felt crossed the line of good taste. This was an hour before tip-off.
"Anything that's offensive to either team" would be removed, Haggard.
Among the signs that got cleared were:
■ UK Coach John Calipari in a wizard's hat and a message that read, "I made two Final Fours disappear."
■ U of L Coach Rick Pitino's face on the body of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Beside him was Calipari's face on the Mini Me character.
■ A tote board that counted UK's five first-round draft picks, zero national championships and 2.1 grade-point average under Calipari.
■ The message, "Enes Kant save you."
■ The crowd of 22,803 was a record for the KFC Yum Center. The previous record was 22,723 for the inaugural game against Butler.
■ UK's margin of victory was the largest in the series since an 82-62 victory in 2001-02.
■ Kentucky plays again Monday against visiting Penn in a final tuneup before beginning Southeastern Conference play Saturday at Georgia.