When asked why fan favorite Jon Hood does not play more, Kentucky coaches invariably say he needs more self-confidence.
It's an analysis Hood does not dispute.
"Because it's not where it needs to be," he said on Friday. "My confidence needs to go up. Everybody knows that."
Hood, a sophomore from Madisonville, said he did not know why his confidence lags.
But he emphatically denied that a lack of confidence meant he doubted he could perform at Kentucky's level.
"No, there's no doubt in my mind I'm good enough," he said. "I know I'm good enough to play here. I know I'm good enough to contribute."
Much to many UK fans' dismay, Hood has not contributed a lot so far this season. He's averaging only 6.1 minutes, 1.6 points and 0.9 rebounds. His shooting has suffered: 30.4 percent overall, 25 percent from three-point range and 55.6 percent from the foul line.
Hood's remedy was to get in the gym more.
"I don't think there's anything anybody else can do," he said. "It's just something I have to get on the court more, not on the court more, but get in the gym more."
UK Coach John Calipari repeatedly says that demonstrated performance in games is the only way to build confidence. But Calipari is trying to bolster the confidence of UK's reserves through extra workouts.
The goal for all of the reserve players is to build someone expecting to perform well.
"Instead of (thinking) 'The roof is going to cave in on me,' " Calipari said. " 'I know I'm going to miss every shot' and 'I'm paralyzed here. I'm petrified.' "
Cal not in loop?
Before UK announced that its appeal on behalf of Enes Kanter had been rejected, Calipari mildly criticized the way the NCAA informed him of developments.
"Obviously, I'm the last to know about this stuff," he told reporters. "They're telling me as you guys are hearing it. They're telling me ... 'We're releasing this in five minutes.' "
Then, in a mildly sarcastic tone, Calipari said his reaction would be, " 'Great. I'm glad you told me about it.' "
Georgia will be playing its first game since beating Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 31.
"Probably what we needed," Coach Mark Fox said. "Just to get ourselves grounded again."
Fox had not been happy with how the Bulldogs played in building up an 11-2 non-conference record. Too much inconsistency.
Georgia is coming off only its third unbeaten December in 30 years. When asked what kind of momentum that represented going into the Kentucky game, Fox said, "I don't know. We don't talk about it. We're just trying to play the right way."
Fox did applaud the chance a week off afforded to get in good practices. Star forward Trey Thompkins, who suffered a high ankle sprain in late October, needed practice time to round into form, the Georgia coach said.
Fox echoes Pitino
After his team lost to Kentucky on New Year's Eve, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino suggested the Cats might be better than last season. Calipari scoffed at that notion.
But Fox echoed Pitino while marveling at how Kentucky lost five first-round draft picks off last season's team, yet remains a favorite to win the SEC championship.
"In some ways, they're maybe better than a year ago," Fox said. "John has done a remarkable job reloading after what they lost. I think it's terrific."
Fox saw UK as possibly better in terms of three-point shooting and a more balanced attack.
When reminded that UK lost five first-round picks, Fox said, "I'm not commenting on the future of his players. But he's probably got a few more first-round picks in blue and white now."
Robinson played vs. UK
Georgia guard Gerald Robinson played against UK two seasons ago as a member of the Tennessee State team.
He scored a team-high 25 points, but it wasn't enough to prevent Kentucky from rolling to a 102-58 victory on Dec. 22, 2008.
Robinson made seven of 16 shots. The rest of the team made only 12 of 43 shots (27.9 percent). He hit three of six three-point attempts. His teammates made one of eight.
■ Opponents play zone against Georgia, which ranks last among SEC teams in three-pointers and three-point accuracy. Sherrard Brantley, a junior college transfer brought in to replace perimeter shooter Ricky McPhee, has made only 30.4 percent of his three-point shots (14 of 46).
■ Carter Blackburn and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried will call the game for the SEC Network.