DeAndre Liggins at the Southeastern Conference Tournament: "If I had a chance to play Kemba Walker, the guy who beat us, it would be different."
DeAndre Liggins on Tuesday, with another chance to defend Kemba Walker four days away: "Kemba Walker is a great player. He scores in bunches. I just want to do a better job on him."
With Kentucky set to play Connecticut and Walker in the Final Four on Saturday, Liggins toned down the rhetoric.
"He's going to score points," Liggins said in what's become a familiar assessment of his defensive assignment. "But I'm going to try to make him work for everything he puts up."
Walker torched the Cats in leading UConn to an 84-67 victory in the finals of the Maui Invitational last November. Besides handing out a game-high six assists and committing only two turnovers in 38 minutes, the little (6-foot-1) guard poured in 29 points. Only Vanderbilt's John Jenkins scored more points (32) against UK this season.
In three games on Maui, Walker scored 90 points, which left him three short of the tournament record.
Liggins noted UK was playing its third game in three days on Maui, and its fourth game in a six-day span. The Cats played at Portland on the way to Hawaii.
"So I was kind of worn down a little bit," Liggins said. "... I had no legs. I was tired. But Kemba Walker is a great player. It's going to be a tough challenge for me."
Walker's performance dazzled Brandon Knight, a freshman then playing his fifth collegiate game.
"He didn't really miss against us," Knight said of Walker, who actually made 10 of 17 shots (three of four from three-point range). "He did it in all type of ways."
Walker swished threes, drove with authority to the basket, made all six of his free throws and controlled the contest with a heady floor game.
On his radio show Monday, UK Coach John Calipari emphasized the need to limit Walker to perimeter jump shots.
"If he's getting to the rim and drawing fouls, he's a handful," Calipari said.
Liggins, an unabashed admirer of Ron Artest, will resort to trash talking and other attempts to distract the player he's guarding. In the game on Maui, he and Walker simply competed, Liggins said.
"I respect him," UK's defensive stopper said. "He's a great player. ...
"If he shoots 25 shots and he makes them, oh well."