Count on Cousins to keep it interesting

It should be no surprise that our favorite, fun-loving 6-foot-11 dancing bear of a Kentucky basketball freshman is a big fan of cartoons.

After all, DeMarcus Cousins could star in his own cartoon.

"The Continuing Adventures of Big Cuz."

Just 2:16 into Wednesday afternoon's episode, we found our headband-wearing hero locked in a silly scrum with Long Beach State's Larry Anderson for a rebound in Rupp Arena.

Somehow, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Anderson got his neck inside the beefy arms of the 260-pound Cousins.

Anderson sort of shoved/hit Cousins to release himself from the not-so-tender embrace. Cousins retaliated with a shove/hit of his own, accompanied by a what was probably less than a pleasant conversation.

Double technical fouls were assessed.

For Big Cuz, it was his second personal foul and thus a seat on the bench.

"He wanted to argue the point," said Kentucky Coach John Calipari, "and I'm not buying it."

So for the rest of the first half, Big Cuz sat.

And stewed.

Then the second half started, and Big Cuz played — big.

"He was the best player on the floor," Calipari said.

By game's end, in just 13 minutes of action — 13 minutes — Cousins finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Kentucky turned a first half nail-biter into an almost-comfortable 86-73 victory.

"The two hardest things to recruit are inside presence and a point guard," said Long Beach Coach Dan Monson after watching John Wall score 19 points and Cousins 15. "Mission accomplished."

Indeed, the only disappointment belonged to the media when it was announced that Cousins would not be one of the players made available for post-game interviews.

See, we love DeMarcus Cousins. He's fun. He's goofy. The man-child they call "Boogie" might show up wearing a ushanka and horn-rimmed glasses, his "Peter Parker Swag," as he did last Saturday after UK beat Austin Peay or something else entirely outrageous. You just never know.

He might crack jokes.

He might say something outlandish.

"The kid likes to have fun," said Calipari, who added, "But he's got to be like Muhammad Ali. He's got to learn to back it up."

And that might be the most fun of all, watching the Mobile, Ala., native learn.

After all, he came to Lexington with the reputation of being a bit immature with something of an anger management problem, which Cal said was no problem because he had something of an anger management problem.

And there are times when, as Cal said, "you just grind your teeth," as Cousins is taking himself out of the game with a silly foul or a crazy play — for example, his Cancun decision to disobey a Calipari order and miss a free throw on purpose, only to foul on the rebound and get yanked out of the game.

But there are also times when Cousins is just so big and so active and so persistent and so athletic for his size around the rim, he can't be stopped.

"In practice, sometimes, he's like Shaq," said teammate Perry Stevenson.

If you're a longstanding Kentucky basketball fan, the more apt comparison might be Rick Robey.

And the thing to dream about is what will happen when Cousins can make extended stays on the floor. After all, he had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes against Miami (Ohio); 27 and 18 in 27 minutes against Sam Houston; 24 and 10 in 17 minutes against Asheville; 14 and eight in 16 minutes against Indiana; 18 and 13 in 14 minutes against Drexel.

And get this, after accumulating four assists all season, our hero was credited with a career-high three assists Wednesday.

"He's growing up," Calipari said.

Watching him grow, that's our fun.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader