Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow, both of whom had been in shooting slumps, made up for lost time as perimeter shooters in Kentucky's 90-38 victory over Eastern Michigan Wednesday night. The two combined to make seven of 12 three-point shots.
"It felt good," said Mays, whose one-for-15 three-point shooting in the previous three games mocked his billing as a perimeter sharp shooter.
"I've been down on myself,' he said. "But it's not the first time I've been (in a slump). The only way to get out of it is to keep shooting."
Mays made three of seven shots from beyond the arc. In the last four games, he'd made only two of 19.
UK Coach John Calipari cautioned against judging Mays purely by his shooting accuracy.
"Even Julius missing shots, he doesn't hurt your team," the UK coach said. "He just doesn't make shots."
Mays can contribute in other ways.
"Julius never hurts us," Calipari said. "He just maybe doesn't help us as much as we want. Today, he helped us."
Harrow surpassed his season total of three three-pointers (in 16 attempts). He made four of five.
"Coach told me if I'm open, shoot it," he said.
When asked if the green light might turn red, Harrow smiled and said, "Oh, no. I'm going to keep the green light."
After a 52-point victory, Calipari voiced satisfaction with a new rotation. He started a big lineup with Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress along the front line. He brought Mays and Kyle Wiltjer off the bench.
"I think the rotation the way we have it right now may be something that I stick with for a while," Calipari said. "Having (Mays) and Kyle come off the bench, you have scoring right away when you go to it off the bench."
Earlier in the season, Eastern Michigan lost by 36 at Syracuse and 39 at Michigan.
Coach Rob Murphy compared Kentucky favorably to those teams.
"They're as good as any of those teams," he said. "I like Kentucky because of their size and athleticism. With Ryan Harrow continuing to improve, I think they'd be a top 10 team (by season's end)."
Murphy said Kentucky is capable of making a Final Four run.
A behind-the-back dribble that led to a turnover got Harrow a seat on the bench early in the second half.
"If you want to be cool, you can sit over here," Harrow said of Calipari's reaction to the turnover. To which, Harrow replied, "OK, I won't be cool anymore."
Calipari has made no secret that he does not like attempts to be fancy. So why did Harrow give in to that desire?
"It's like my body did it by itself," he said. "You see I picked up the ball right away and tried to pass it. Just an impulse."
UK trapped and pressed much more than normal.
"Partly, it's how we wanted to play this team," Calipari said. "Partly, it was good (longer term)."
Calipari noted the effectiveness Willie Cauley-Stein can have in the front line of the press.
"It's tough when you've got a seven-footer running at you now," the UK coach said. "He's just got to get a little lower so he can keep the player in the trap a little bit better.
"But I like him up there."
Alex Poythress noted the film study he's done to try to improve.
"They've showed me film of when I'm not playing hard, and they've showed me film of when I am playing hard," Poythress said of the coaches. "And I've seen the difference."
When asked if he knew there was a difference, Poythress said, "Yeah, I did."
After making only 11 of 23 free throws at Louisville, Kentucky made 18 of 24.
Calipari downplayed the difference. He noted how Cauley-Stein (zero for four) and Poythress (two of six) accounted for the bulk of the misses at U of L. The other UK players were nine of 13.
Calipari said Cauley-Stein had made 400 free throws since the U of L game.
"What I told him was, 'Get fouled and show everyone what you've been working on,' " the UK coach said.
Cauley-Stein missed his first attempt, which caused a murmur from the crowd. Then he made the second.
One of last season's heroes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, attended the game. He flew in from Charlotte after the Bobcats' practice earlier in the day.
"He was really, really angry when he saw the locker room," Calipari said. "He was smoking. He walked in my office, and he said, 'This is BS. What we had last year. Look at this.'"
That was a light-hearted comment by Calipari (and perhaps a plug for UK's plush accommodations).