Presumptive point guard Ryan Harrow acknowledges a personal motivation at this juncture of Kentucky's season.
"I'm trying to get them to accept me again, basically," he said Friday.
Coach John Calipari suggested that Harrow is gaining renewed acceptance.
"The team is starting to respond to him," Calipari said, "which is what they need to do."
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Harrow missed four November games for still undisclosed reasons. Since returning to action at Notre Dame Nov. 29, he's had limited impact.
"I'm actually playing more than I thought I'd be playing," he said. "So I have to be prepared when (Calipari) calls my name."
In the last two games, Harrow had six assists and no turnovers. That got overshadowed by his poor shooting (3-for-19 this season, including 0-for-6from three-point range)."I think once I actually make a shot, I'll get that confidence back that I can shoot," he said. "It's just a mind thing, really, because in practice I'm hitting those same shots."
Although it was only Big Blue Madness, Harrow played assertively that mid-October night. He played bigger than his listed 6-foot-2, 170. But so far this season, he's played smaller, in a metaphorical sense.
"I just have to play without thinking I will make a mistake," he said. "If I make a mistake I make a mistake. I have to keep on playing."
Portland Coach Eric Reveno cited too little rebounding and too many turnovers as factors in his team's 0-4 road record. The Pilots (3-5) are also relatively young. The team's lone senior, Derrick Rodgers, is part of a point guard-by-committee arrangement.
Starter David Carr, whom Reveno called a combo guard, diligently puts running the team ahead of scoring. Rodgers is a penetrator and facilitator.
Portland committed a whopping 483 turnovers last season (or 122 more than its opponents). Through eight games this season, the Pilots are averaging a more reasonable 14.8 turnovers, although they committed 21 in a 68-60 loss to UNLV Tuesday.
On the lookout
Reveno acknowledged a reaction when UK lost to Baylor two days after losing at Notre Dame.
"Somebody accused me of being a little soft for admitting it," he said. "But after they lost to Baylor at home, I quickly checked to make sure we weren't playing them next.
"Given the caliber of our schedule lately, I think I'm OK to say we're not afraid of playing people. Not that I don't want to play them, but I don't need the extra incentive."
Reveno suggested that there's nothing unusual about UK staging a Camp Cal.
"It's not too dissimilar to what we're going through," the Portland coach said. "Just trying to establish consistency and find yourself as a basketball team. It's what every team goes through. The ones that make it through are the ones that are really good."
Reveno noted a distinction in UK's process of finding itself.
"What's interesting is how public and how scrutinized it is," he said. "You saw these ebbs and flows last November, and they ended up with a national championship. It's sort of the ebbs and flows of building a team. Coach Calipari is one of the best. He's trying to find the right combinations."
Lingering symptoms of a concussion ruined a sure-fire sidebar to the UK-Portland game.
One of Portland's freshmen, Bryce Pressley, is the son of former Villanova player Harold Pressley. The elder Pressley scored 11 points in Villanova's 66-64 upset victory over Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game in Rupp Arena.
Alas, Bryce Pressley sustained a concussion in Portland's loss to Washington State on Dec. 1 and did not make the trip to Lexington. His parents canceled plans to attend the game.
"I felt like such a Scrooge," Reveno said of deciding to leave Pressley at home. "He wanted to go, but the doctor wouldn't clear him to play because he still has those symptoms."
Pressley sustained a concussion in the first half against Washington State. In defending a last-second heave, he got in position to get thumped on the forehead and nose by the shooter's follow-through.
After the buzzer sounded ending the half, Pressley ran off the court. But he collapsed in the tunnel.
"He didn't remember playing in the first half, and he played well, too," Reveno said. "Normally, you're not sure if a guy had a concussion. There was no doubt this time."