Sports

Stevenson letting action do the talking

Kentucky forward Perry Stevenson prefers to stay out of the limelight. He's content to let teammates Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks take bows.

"I just want to stay humble," he said after UK beat Auburn on Wednesday night. "And maybe it'll work for us."

Reporters futilely tried to get Stevenson to take public pleasure in the fifth double-double of his career. Cameras and notepads stood ready to record his delight in a defensive game that included four blocks and remarkable containment on the perimeter.

"I'm not a very assertive person, but it happens sometimes," Stevenson said of his contributions. "I probably won't go chasing after the game. I have to let it come to me."

So leave it to others to sing Stevenson's hosannas.

"He was awesome," UK Coach Billy Gillispie said. "Perry was great."

Both coaches noted the advantage Kentucky possesses in having a 6-foot-9 player who can defend players on the perimeter.

Stevenson nullified Auburn's hope of using its small lineup to create mismatches against bigger teams.

"They can play Stevenson because he can defend a smaller guy with his length," Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said. "...He can back off you and still move his feet good enough. He can play 4 feet off you and block it 3 feet out of your hand.

"They can defend a lot of different types of styles and not have to substitute a lot to do it."

Patterson noted how Stevenson is deceptively agile.

"He's a big guy, but he's still quick," Patterson said. "It's eye deceiving with Perry. You may think he's slow because he's so tall and skinny. But he's able to move and maneuver."

Stevenson, whom UK lists as weighing 207 pounds, said it's no easy task to guard a smaller, quicker player.

"It's hard," he said before adding, "I'd much rather do that than try to move a 6-10, 300-pounder under the basket."

Stevenson's 13 points matched his point total at Georgia on Sunday and made for only the third time in three seasons he's scored double-digit points in back-to-back games.

Patterson suggested that Stevenson can become the consistent third scorer many observers believe Kentucky needs to become a national contender. Patterson threw out an average of 14 to 16 points a game as a possibility.

But Stevenson did not embrace such a notion.

"If I'm scoring a basket, I think pretty much everybody can do it," he said.

When he made a three-pointer at Georgia (the third of his career), he tried to drain the moment of any significance.

"A little luck behind that one," he said. "I decided to let it fly."

A shot clock ticking down inside its final five seconds inspired the shot, not a bold stroke of assertiveness, he said.

But Stevenson did concede that he works on three-pointer shooting in practice.

"When the opportunity gets here, I'll try to take advantage of it," he said.

Speaking of assertiveness, Gillispie volunteered praise about Stevenson's 12 rebounds against Auburn.

"The best I've ever seen him rebound in traffic with two hands," the UK coach said. "No question he was going to get that ball.

"I've seen time after time he'd go after those balls softer than that. And (opponents) would end up knocking it away."

True to form, Stevenson claimed not to see what all the fuss was about. He attributed the 12 rebounds to "magnets."

Good fortune again smiled on the junior forward from Lafayette, La.

"They were just falling in my hands," he said. "I don't know. I just figured it'd either be mine or theirs. I just didn't want to lose the game."

Stevenson conceded that his humble stance clashes with the aggressive play that Gillispie demands of all players. But he's found a way to balance the two.

"Action speaks louder than words," Stevenson said. "Just do what you want to do, and don't talk about it."

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