Kentucky freshman Marcus Lee acknowledged a roller coaster of emotions on Sunday. And that was before he won the tap in his first college start.
"I was trying to understand and kind of not be as nervous, which made me more nervous," he said after UK's 87-49 victory over Robert Morris. "Because usually I have time to just chill and relax and get hype into the game and just kind of roll myself into the game.
"But now I had to kind of bring myself up to it quicker than usual. I kind of brought myself up a little too much, and then I had to bring myself back down a little bit and bring myself up gradually."
Considering that exhausting emotional trip, no wonder Lee went to the bench 51 seconds into the game.
"Marcus, love him to death, but he kind of panicked a little bit," UK Coach John Calipari said. "You have to understand that in the shootaround, we ran the first play seven straight times so he could do it. We got the tip. We went down to run that same play that we ran seven straight times, and he ran the wrong way."
Lee pleaded guilty.
"I did everything the total opposite," he said. "Like in my head, 'Why did I just do that? We just did that. I know exactly what I'm supposed to do. Why did I mess that up?'
"Total mind lapse."
Winning the tap
Lee started instead of Willie Cauley-Stein because UK wanted to win the tap, Calipari said. Cauley-Stein had lost the opening tap in two of UK's first three games.
"There was no pressure," Lee said in response to a question. "I've been doing that my whole life since I was always the tallest on my team. I've always had a ritual."
Lee found it difficult to describe this ritual.
"My body just does it," he said. "If you watch the tip over and over, it's the exact same thing."
Having lost four starters and its sixth man from last season's 19-14 team, UT Arlington brings a work-in-progress roster and a 2-2 record into Rupp Arena. The Mavericks beat Samford and Howard Payne, while losing by double-digit margins at Boise State (116-87) and Cleveland State (83-73).
In addition to losing four senior starters from last season, a torn labrum (hip muscle) has sidelined sixth man Greg Gainey for the season and made point guard Shaquille White-Miller less than 100 percent.
"I do like our talent level," Coach Scott Cross said. "I don't think we're too far off. We definitely can score the ball a lot easier than we could last year."
Guard Reger Dowell, a transfer from Oklahoma State, is averaging 26 points a game. "Very dangerous scorer," Cross said. "When he gets in a rhythm, he can fill it up."
Forward Brandon Edwards is averaging a double-double: 17.5 points and 11.3 rebounds.We meet again
Cross and UT Arlington played Calipari-coached Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Memphis won the one-versus-16 game 87-63.
"We played about as good as we possibly could have," Cross said. "... We made Coach Cal call a timeout in the first half (chuckle). I think we made everybody back home proud by the way our guys competed."
Randle a 'monster'
Cross described Julius Randle as "a monster down there."
When asked if opponents might be intimidated by the idea of facing a monster, Cross said, "I would say so."
So how does a coach bolster his players' confidence going into a game against a player like Randle?
"You can't make the film session a highlight tape of Kentucky," Cross said.
The telecast of Kentucky's game with Texas-Arlington on Tuesday will be available to Time Warner Cable customers in the Bluegrass State, the television company announced Monday.
If viewers have a digital box and subscribe to Time Warner's Preferred TV Package, the game will be on channel 505.
If your television has a built-in tuner (manufactured after 2005), you need to re-scan your channels. Then it can be seen on the following channels: Bowling Green 12.3; Covington 17.3; Louisville 77.3; Lexington 16.3.
The game is scheduled to begin shortly after 7:30 p.m. EST. Time Warner spokesman Mike Pedelty noted that the picture won't appear on channel 505 until 7:30.
Matt Stewart and Kyle Macy will call the game.
Tickets for Kentucky's upcoming games against Boise State (Dec. 10), Belmont (Dec. 21), and Mississippi State (Jan. 8) will go on sale Wednesday at 6 p.m. Eastern, UK announced. The tickets will be available first online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
Any tickets remaining after Wednesday's sale will be available for purchase through the UK Ticket Office by calling (800) 928-2287 on Thursday. Ticket office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.
The tickets are from the unsold student ticket allotment.
Lower level tickets are $50, and upper level tickets are $42.
Tickets for Kentucky's home games against UT Arlington (Nov. 19), Cleveland State (Nov. 25) and Eastern Michigan (Nov. 27) are also on sale.