When he came to an interview area after Friday's practice, Michael Porter looked like a boxer who just took too many right crosses in a 15-round brawl. He kept a camouflage hunting cap pulled down to make it a little more difficult to inspect a left eye swollen partially shut.
But Porter did practice, which put him ahead of teammate Ramon Harris, who remained home recovering from the players' nasty head-to-head collision earlier in the week.
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A proud smile crossed Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie's face when asked if Porter might play against No. 21 Miami on Saturday.
"Porter says he's going to play," said Gillispie, who seldom misses a chance to laud toughness.
Gillispie coyly declined to say if Porter would start against the Hurricanes. Nor did the UK coach say who would start for Harris on the wing or what alternative options the Cats were considering.
This much could be gleaned: Porter probably will wear a headband. He wore a headband in practice because it pulled the eyelid off his swollen left peeper.
"I think I'm going to go out with a helmet," Porter joked. "I feel pretty good. I feel fine."
Gillispie seemed to discourage an attempt to draw conclusions from Porter's practice. The player "did OK," the coach allowed before noting that the Cats had a "fairly short practice. Not total contact."
Porter said he was not initially aware that he had collided with Harris. The two banged heads as teammate Perry Stevenson retrieved a loose ball rebound against Lamar on Wednesday night.
As medical staff applied 10 stitches over Porter's left eye, he said they told him about Harris being taken on a stretcher to University of Kentucky Hospital. "That scared me for a minute," Porter said.
Harris stayed on the floor for about eight minutes before being loaded on a stretcher. His stepfather said on Thursday that Harris was up walking and joking at the hospital.
Harris has not been cleared to practice and is wearing a protective cervical collar, UK said in a news release.
UK's medical staff will re-evaluate Harris once the symptoms of muscular pain in his neck and back end, the release said. After further testing, a timetable for a return to basketball activity can be determined, but the UK medical staff is confident that Harris will return this season, the release said.
Gillispie seemed almost offended by a question about when Harris could return to practice or games. Such a question was "not proper" when the focus should be on Harris' recovery, the UK coach said.
Doctors told Porter the cut over his left eye revealed bone, but he downplayed his injury. He contradicted his father, who said on Thursday that Porter had sustained a mild concussion.
"I've definitely been hit worse," he said with a smile.
One more severe hit came during practice before last season, Porter said. "I was a lot more disoriented last year," he said. That blow caused a concussion.
Of watching replays of the collision with Harris, Porter said, "It wasn't as bad as it felt. It felt a lot worse."
Gillispie made it sound like he expected Miami to mimic most opponents' strategy of mercilessly pressing and trapping Kentucky. As the ranking suggests, the Hurricanes have a deep and talented backcourt, plus a solid frontcourt.
"Against teams of that magnitude, we've had major turnover problems," the UK coach said. He added that it would be "interesting to see" how Porter plays against Miami.
Statistics don't suggest suffocating pressure by Miami. Its opponents have averaged only 13.2 turnovers and have had nearly as many assists (70) as turnovers (79).
"We're not great at that," Miami Coach Frank Haith said of pressure defense. "We're a team that plays solid defense."
Miami's opponents are making only 37.1 percent of their shots (27.2 percent from three-point range).
Besides, Kentucky should not be considered vulnerable to pressure, Haith said. "As the year goes on, they'll continue to get better and better," he said. "We just have to worry about what we do and make sure we don't turn the ball over."
Haith voiced concern about UK's transition offense. Coincidentally, Gillispie noted how Kentucky plays better at a faster pace.
Gillispie's concerns were Miami's experience (six of the top seven are fourth-year players) and a new challenge for the Cats: a low-post scorer in Dwayne Collins.
"One of the best low-post, back-to-the-basket players in the country," the UK coach said.