Andrew Harrison, Kentucky's point guard — and all-purpose pin cushion for fans — said Thursday that he's invulnerable to criticism.
"I can take whatever anyone throws at me now," he said. "Whatever is said, it doesn't really matter. I've heard it all. I'm just starting to get my confidence back knowing I'm the starting point or whatever and knowing I can play as well as anybody."
Saying he was starting to get his confidence back implied that he had lost confidence. Not so, Harrison said.
"Not really. You just have to realize that this is basketball, and you have to feel like you've been playing your whole life. ... Now, I'm so used to it, so immune to it. ... There's nothing anybody can say that bothers me anymore."
Never miss a local story.
UK Coach John Calipari reminded reporters of how Harrison serves as a handy scapegoat for any and all reversals of fortune.
"When it rains in Lexington, whose fault is it?" Calipari said. "It's Andrew's fault. There was a car accident on (Interstate) 75. It was Andrew. He's accepted it."
Calipari then tried to put Harrison's UK career in perspective.
"He's a guy who led us to a championship game," the UK coach said, "and gave us a chance to do something unique and special."
Share the burden
Freshman Tyler Ulis, the point guard darling of fans, noted how Harrison's play has lightened the load.
"Because I don't feel much pressure," Ulis said. "I just go out and try to play. I don't have to take on all responsibility as a point guard. Which I'm used to. It wouldn't bother me. ...
"Yeah, I feel him being here helps me out a lot."
Calipari welcomed the share-the-burden sentiment.
"They should feel that way," he said. "'If I'm not great, he's got me. If he's not great, I got him.'"
UK announced it will play in the inaugural Hoophall Miami Invitational in Miami next season. The Cats will play South Florida, which is coached by former UK assistant Orlando Antigua. The game will be Nov. 27, and it's part of a doubleheader in American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat. South Florida will play Kentucky in Rupp Arena during the 2016-17 season.
Tickets for the 2015 Hoophall Miami Invitational will go on sale Jan. 31 at 10 a.m., via Ticketmaster.com.
South Florida joins a UK schedule for 2015-16 which will also features Duke in Chicago in the Champions Classic, UCLA in Los Angeles in the first game of a home-and-home series, Louisville in Rupp Arena, and Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 2016-17, South Florida will join a non-conference schedule for Kentucky that includes Michigan State in New York in the Champions Classic, UCLA in the second year of the home-and-home series, at Louisville, and North Carolina in Las Vegas in the CBS Sports Classic.
No heat check
Although Devin Booker made 20 of 28 three-point shots in a seven-game stretch, he never took an outrageously long shot: the so-called "heat check" to test the limits of his range.
"He doesn't take that many bad shots," said Ulis, a friend dating back to middle school. "When he's open, he shoots. ... I feel he should shoot a couple more."
Against Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Booker equaled a season low by taking only one three-point shot.
"We had a game plan," Ulis explained. "We were feeding the post, and they didn't double off him. So he didn't get that many open looks."
Calipari did his duty by promoting the quality of SEC basketball. But his penchant for seeing conspiracies surfaced as he suggested the league's improvement won't be fully appreciated.
"Since we're high in the RPI, we won't be evaluated by RPI," he said. "There will be probably other reasons: 'What are your bad losses?' It's like that moving target. They look, 'OK, where is the SEC strong. Don't consider those areas.'"
Having made his point, Calipari added that he wasn't sure the thinking among evaluators follows that pattern.
Teams like Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and LSU are good, Calipari said.
When it was suggested the league had to win more non-conference games to gain greater credibility, Calipari said SEC teams had done just that this season.
Not counting Kentucky, SEC teams had a 4-10 record against teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the games. Those victories belonged to LSU (over then-No. 16 West Virginia), Ole Miss (over then-No. 23 Creighton), South Carolina (over then-No. 9 Iowa State) and Tennessee (over then-No. 15 Butler).
Of those four opponents, only Iowa State and West Virginia remain in the AP Top 25.