LOUISVILLE — Kentucky senior Darius Miller expressed a humble thank you after becoming the 58th player in program history to score 1,000 points during his career.
"It's a honor to be part of something like that, especially in a program like this," Miller said after joining that fraternity Tuesday night with 15 points in a 73-51 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock.
Miller agreed with a reporter's premise that being from Kentucky added a special quality to reaching 1,000 points.
"I'm blessed to be part of this," he said.
An announced crowd of 14,747 watched Kentucky win.
That was only the sixth time since at least 1980 — and maybe since Freedom Hall opened in 1956 — that a Kentucky game failed to draw 15,000 or more. It happened four straight years beginning in 2005.
It did not go unnoticed that UK's breakout came, in large part, without freshman point guard Marquis Teague on the floor.
"Obviously, without him, we played a lot better," UK Coach John Calipari said. "There's no argument there."
That said, Calipari added, "We have to play well for us to win. We also know that."
Teague made two of seven shots, which made him 3-for-16 in the past two games. His two missed three-point shots made him 1-for-8 from beyond the arc in the past three games and 5-for-27 in the past 10 games.
On the plus side, Teague's two turnovers were his fewest in five games.
Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sustained an injury "in the chest area" against Louisville last weekend, Calipari said. Kidd-Gilchrist did not start the second half against UALR.
"We don't know if it's a pulled muscle or not," Calipari said. "... He didn't feel right at halftime. We gave him some medicine to see if it would loosen it up. We'll check him out" on Wednesday. "I think he'll be fine."
UALR assistant coach Joe Kleine, a college standout for Arkansas, played for Calipari with the New Jersey Nets.
"Best two months of his career," Kleine joked.
More seriously, Kleine said he was unhappy when first traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to Calipari's Nets.
"I was leaving my family," he said. "I wasn't very happy about it.
"But after being around him (and) the way he does things, I really enjoyed it."
Kleine said he liked Calipari's upbeat demeanor with a then-woebegone New Jersey franchise.
"I just like the energy he brought," Kleine said. "Every day he was working. He was at a place that was bad for a hundred years. He didn't come in and say, 'We just lost five in a row.' He said, 'We're getting better. We're going to win tonight.'"
Not very Neighbourly
UALR played without its leading scorer and rebounder. Forward Will Neighbour injured his right shoulder in the Trojans' victory at Denver last weekend.
Before the game, Kleine said UALR would feel Neighbour's absence.
"We just two won (Sun Belt) conference games," the UALR assistant said. "It felt like we lost them both. Such a downer."
Neighbour, a 6-10 sophomore, averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds. He also was making 42.2 percent of his three-point shots (19-for-45) and leading the team in blocks (16).
"He can shoot the three," Kleine said. "He's getting better in the post. I don't know about against Kentucky, but he'd be a matchup problem" against many opponents.
UK won the rebounding battle 50-23. That made the Cats a plus 77 on the boards in the past five games.
"Anthony's way tougher than (earlier this season)," Calipari said of freshman Anthony Davis. "Terrence (Jones) is trying to crack it out."
Davis led UK with 16 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist had 10, and Jones added six.
Go Big (Labatt's) Blue
To get around an SEC ban on alcohol at games, fans could get beer next door at the North Wing portion of the Kentucky Exposition Center.