TAMPA — If the NCAA had cooperated, a Kentucky-West Virginia game would reunite two former stars from Turkey. But, of course, the NCAA ruled UK freshman Enes Kanter permanently ineligible because he received improper compensation while playing for a professional team in Turkey.
That leaves WVU sophomore Deniz Kilicli as the only Turk in Saturday's NCAA Tournament third-round game.
"It's going to be exciting," Kilicli said after WVU beat Clemson on Thursday. "I haven't talked to (Kanter) since we got here. I'm going to talk trash to him."
Kilicli said he had known Kanter for about seven years. They were rivals as big men from Istanbul. Plus, their teams in Turkey were rivals.
When asked how good of a player Kanter is, Kilicli said, "Well, he's a great player. You don't find those kind of guys every day. He's going to be really good. One of those guys that breaks records."
Kilicli could relate to Kanter's ineligibility. The NCAA ordered him to sit out 20 games because he played for a professional team.
Kilicli sidestepped the question about whether the NCAA ruling on Kanter was fair.
"I don't think (it is)," he said. 'But it's the rules, you know? In the end, they think it's fair, so it's fair."
Kilicli, who scored 11 points in West Virginia's victory over Clemson, likened the NCAA ruling on Kanter to a call by a referee.
Whatever players might think of the call, "We just respect that," he said.
Liggins comes alive
At halftime, DeAndre Liggins had one basket, no rebounds and little impact on UK's game against Princeton.
But down the stretch, Liggins came alive. In the final 8:42, he scored two baskets and fed a pass to teammate Josh Harrellson for a layup and three-point play.
"Rising to the moment," he called it. "I wanted to make a play at the end."
Liggins acknowledged his frustration with the first half.
"I felt I didn't get the ball at all," he said. "I felt, dang, they're passing me up a little bit. I was kind of frustrated.
"In the second half, the team picked me up. 'We need you.' And I started getting the ball more."
Knight is human
When asked about making only 14 of his most recent 47 shots until hitting the game-winner against Princeton, Brandon Knight said, "You can't make every shot. I can't tell you why I missed them or why I made them."
When asked how difficult the game-winner was, Knight said, "I don't know how to judge the degree of difficulty of a shot. The guy (Kareem Maddox) came over and contested. I wanted to get it high off the glass."
Princeton Coach Sydney Johnson's first season resulted in a 6-23 record.
"To go from the worst team in Princeton history in terms of wins and losses to being on the national stage playing in the (NCAA) tournament, if that isn't a 180-degree turnaround, I don't know what is."
No coaching reprimand
Johnson took pride in how Princeton competed against Kentucky.
"The effort was fantastic," he said. "They made one single play more than we did.
"If I'm going to beat them up about that, I'm not the coach, I'm not the man I want to be."
Former UK big man Daniel Orton was in the locker room after the game, "Nothing else to do," said Orton, a rookie with the Orlando Magic. "Hanging out."
UK in Hall of Fame game
The Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off for 2011 will include Kentucky.
That became official Thursday when the event announced its field. In addition to UK, other participating teams are Long Island U., Radford, Vermont, Marist, Old Dominion, South Florida and Penn State.
UK is in Bracket 2 with ODU, South Florida and Penn State. The Cats will play Penn State on Nov. 19. Then UK will play ODU or South Florida on Nov. 20.
In addition to the two games, the event also includes two on-campus games for UK, ODU, Penn State and South Florida. Those games are to be played between Nov. 11 and Nov. 23.
The event is an "exempt" tournament, which means its games do not count toward the NCAA schedule limit.
Dan Mavraides' 14 points moved him past his coach on Princeton's career scoring list. Mavraides finished his career with 1,054 points. Johnson scored 1,044. ... UK won its seventh straight to match the season's longest winning streak. The Cats also won seven straight beginning with Notre Dame on Dec. 8 and ending with a Jan. 3 victory over Penn.