Louisiana State freshman point guard Anthony Hickey, the 2011 Kentucky Mr. Basketball passed over by UK recruiters, should — and will — bring extra motivation into Saturday's game against the Cats, Coach John Calipari said.
"Sure, and he should," the UK coach said Friday. "He's going to go out and prove himself."
Such proof is not necessary, said Calipari, who spoke of Hickey as good enough to be recruited by Kentucky.
"Oh, he's good enough," Calipari said. "There's no question."
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Kentucky did not recruit Hickey because another point guard, Marquis Teague, was already in the fold, Calipari said.
"What if (Hickey) comes here, maybe he's better than Marquis," Calipari said. "Maybe he's not. If he's not and he's not playing, is that fair to him?"
Calipari acknowledged making recruiting mistakes in the past. For instance, he noted how he passed on Kemba Walker.
"When I saw my man out of high school, I said he was too small," Calipari said. "Guess what? He was good enough."
Teague saluted Hickey as a "really good player" with quickness and ball-handling skills. "A true point guard," the UK freshman said.
When asked if he expected Hickey to bring extra motivation to the game, Teague said, "I would think so. ...
"I'm just going to come in and compete, just lead my team. This is no one-on-one battle."
In the Kentucky-Indiana series last June, Teague and Hickey posted similar numbers. Teague made 12 of 38 shots while averaging 15 points and five assists in the two games. Hickey made eight of 28 shots while averaging 12.5 points and seven assists.
When Kentucky won at Georgia earlier this week, Teague contributed seven assists and did not commit a turnover in 33 minutes.
Calipari suggested media and fans take note of Teague's defense and rebounding (a career-high seven at Georgia).
"If he had seven rebounds, we'll outrebound the other opponent by double-digits," Calipari said.
In noting Kentucky's balance and unselfishness, Calipari said, "There's no team in the country with seven guys (taking) 100 shots."
Not true. A quick look showed that North Carolina and Syracuse also have seven players who have taken 100 or more shots. UNC has an eighth player, James McAdoo, closing in with 91 shots.
But Calipari's point was how balanced and talented Kentucky is as a scoring team.
He said such players as Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb could score 30 points in a given game.
"A bunch of guys could bust out for 30," he said.
Teague said his job is to find that hot hand and get him the ball. "You have to feed the horse," he said.
At Georgia earlier in the week, that hot player was Miller.
Miller recoiled from the suggestion that he turned the metaphorical corner at Georgia, where he equaled a season high of 19 points.
"That's just one game," he said. "We feel we have a lot of weapons. It could be somebody else's game tomorrow."
Rebounding as key
In assessing LSU's loss at Mississippi State earlier in the week, Coach Trent Johnson said, "46-26 on the glass was probably the biggest difference. ... We had some guys uncharacteristically chase the ball down as opposed to sprint back and cover the hole."
Star freshman recruit Johnny O'Bryant returned at Mississippi State. He scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in 20 minutes. He had missed the five previous games after breaking a bone in his left (non-shooting) hand on Jan. 4.
"I think the worst thing that has happened to him was when he got hurt because that light bulb was on," Johnson said.
Calipari called O'Bryant a "big-time" player. LSU lists O'Bryant at 6-9 and 262 pounds.
Carter Blackburn and Kyle Macy will call the game for the SEC Network.