ATLANTA — Of the two Kentucky players who sprained ankles on Saturday, freshman Doron Lamb seemed much more questionable for Sunday's Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game.
Warm-ups went well enough to make Lamb believe all was fine.
Then Lamb heard the trainer say he needed to give the UK player an injection.
"I put my arm out," Lamb said. "The trainer said, 'No, you've got to turn around.'"
Lamb, who confessed to a fear of needles and the dark, refused. "I'm not doing that," he said he told the trainer. To which, the trainer said Lamb couldn't play without an injection.
That convinced Lamb, who said he needed his teammates to hold his hand and scream to keep him from thinking of the needle.
"Oh, he's a big baby," a smiling Josh Harrellson said of Lamb. "We knew DeAndre (Liggins) was going to play. He's tough. Doron, we weren't for sure. To have him out there showed a lot."
Lamb scored six points in 23 minutes. But he also provided a spark of energy given the crowd's cheers upon his entry into the game.
"I wasn't 100 percent," Lamb said. "I couldn't give my all. I do what I can do."
Lamb said he was hopeful to be closer to 100 percent when Kentucky plays in the NCAA Tournament.
As for Liggins, he shrugged off his ankle sprain.
"Still a little sore," he said. "I can deal with it."
You had to rub your eyes to make sure you saw what you thought you saw.
About two minutes into the second half, Kentucky threw the ball to Josh Harrellson in the low post and Florida double-teamed him. Harrellson then threw a pass to a cutting Terrence Jones for a layup.
"Coach (John Calipari) put that play in for me to cut," Jones said.
But did Florida really double-team Harrellson, who almost never tries to score from the low post?
"You've got to respect him now," Jones said. "He's one of the best big men in the country, now."
Harrellson, who wore one of the nets around his neck during interviews, smiled when told of Jones' comment.
"He's one of my teammates," he said. "He has a lot of confidence in me."
Harrellson, who made the all-tournament team, reflected on his rags-to-riches story. Barely four months ago, he was a seldom-used spare part who got in trouble for tweeting his unhappiness with Calipari.
"It feels good to be a significant player," he said. "This is definitely more meaningful to me. Last year, I figured we'd win it. We had the best team.
"To actually be out there playing makes it mean a whole lot more to me. ... It's a complete 180 from where I was last year."
When Harrellson grabbed the first rebound of the game (surely a point of emphasis for Florida), Coach Billy Donovan reacted immediately by inserting Patric Young for Vernon Macklin 58 seconds after tip-off.
"If you see a coach take him out that quick, that means he's not following the scouting report," Harrellson said. "... After that, he did a pretty good job boxing me out."
Harrellson grabbed only one more offensive rebound the rest of the game.
A technical foul on Kenny Boynton came at a pivotal moment.
With a Florida rally gaining steam, referee Ron Groover signaled Florida ball when a rebound of a Harrellson miss went out of bounds. The crowd and Calipari howled.
Referee Tony Greene came from across the court to consult with Groover, who then reversed the call. A moment later, a technical was called on Boynton.
"I asked why is that?" Boynton said. "It's the same call on the other end. He said, 'I'm not going to have that.' I turned my back and walked away. He kept calling my name and I didn't answer and he gave me a tech."
In his team's two hours of need, backup big man Eloy Vargas answered the call. He played 10 minutes and grabbed four rebounds.
"Eloy played tremendous," Harrellson said. "I was so happy for him. He gave me a breather. I was getting tired."
Florida, his first college, brings out the best in Vargas. His 10 minutes were his most since playing 14 at Florida last month. His four rebounds were his most since grabbing four in that same game in Gainesville.
Calipari joined Tubby Smith as the only two UK coaches to win the SEC Tournament in their first two seasons on the job. ... UK's Darius Miller was voted Most Valuable Player. Joining him on the all-tournament team were Kentucky's Brandon Knight and Harrellson, plus Florida's Chandler Parsons and Boynton.