About five minutes remained in the second half Tuesday night at South Carolina when the Cats' Darnell Dodson had a breakaway jam in the open court that would have tied the score with the host Gamecocks.
Only Dodson missed it.
"I rushed it," said the sophomore on Friday.
Flat-out missed it.
"They're still giving me a hard time," said Dodson.
You might not think that a player who missed a wide-open dunk in what turned out to be the first loss of the season, and earned the head coach's wrath in the process — "Make the play!!!!" said John Calipari — would go from reserve to starter the next game.
"That's the great thing when you're the head coach," said Calipari on Saturday, with a smile. "You can make those kind of decisions."
This was a good decision. Starting for Eric Bledsoe, Dodson scored 16 points in 18 minutes, second to DeMarcus Cousins' 21 points, in Kentucky's 85-72 win over Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena.
The same player who missed the point-blank jam on Tuesday went 5-for-10 from the floor, and 4-for-8 from behind the three-point line.
"I loved the way Darnell shot the ball," said Calipari.
Here was another good decision: Giving reserve DeAndre Liggins 25 minutes, as the sophomore scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and nailed an important three with 12:10 left in the game when Vanderbilt was making a run.
"The big shot was DeAndre's three," said Calipari. "That was a courage shot."
There were several shots of courage for a team that ended up making 12 of 23 three-pointers, a success rate of 52.2 percent.
The previously slumping Patrick Patterson hit three threes. John Wall, fresh off a poor shooting game at South Carolina, hit a couple of triples. Down the stretch, Dodson nailed a pair of threes — one at the 6:32 mark, the other at the four-minute mark — that kept the Commodores at bay.
"What were they, 29 percent in league play going into the game?" asked Kevin Stallings, the Vanderbilt coach.
Indeed, the Cats made just 29.7 percent beyond the arc in their first five SEC games. They were 3-for-12 in Columbia on Tuesday. They were a deceiving 10-for-33 from behind the line in the rout of Arkansas last Saturday. They were 2-for-14 against Georgia.
"When they make the correction, you hope it isn't against you," said Stallings. "Unfortunately, it was."
Calipari didn't expound on why he made the switch to Dodson from Bledsoe. And when the second half began, Bledsoe was back in the starting five, this time in place of Darius Miller, who after a career-high 18-point performance against Arkansas last Saturday has failed to score in the past two games.
"Darnell always gives us a big lift when he's in the game," said Wall. "The main thing coach tells him is to get better on his defense. Coach told him if he plays defense like he plays offense, he'd never come off the floor."
Liggins was the one who added some defensive bite Saturday. He did a nice job helping on Vandy guard Jermaine Beal, who coming off a 25-point effort at Tennessee, made just six of 14 shots. Plus, Liggins made a couple of shots. "If I have the open shot, I'll shoot the open shot," he said.
In the dribble drive, many of those shots come from the wing. Miller is obviously struggling there. Bledsoe slipped at South Carolina, going just 2-for-7 from the floor. Saturday's benching appeared to help his cause. The freshman contributed 13 points and seven rebounds.
"Whoever wants that time, get in there and play," said Calipari. "Again, today I thought there were five or six shots that we passed on, and then we ended up taking a worse shot as the clock went down. I appreciate their unselfishness, but we've got guys that are capable shooters. You've got to let it go."
It helps when it goes in.