Kentucky's 72-54 victory over Indiana on Saturday produced two possible answers to the puzzle of what motivates Perry Stevenson.
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A personal challenge?
Stevenson cited those factors as sparking his strong line in the box score. He scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked six shots.
"I think I imposed my will on 'D,'" Stevenson said, "and let it come to me on offense. It felt great, empowering. It feels real good."
UK Coach Billy Gillispie produced the challenge and the videotape. He put together a clip that showed how tenaciously Indiana tries to take charges. "Just to make (the Cats) aware of it," he said.
As a byproduct, UK took at least three charges, two by Stevenson. The last time the slender forward took two charges? "Uh, probably high school," he said.
"I really think that had something to do with it," Stevenson said of the video's inspirational quality. "After seeing something like that, you become more aware of the opportunity to take charges."
Gillispie also challenged Stevenson to block seven shots against Indiana. "He had six," the UK coach said before playfully adding, "So I'm disappointed in his effort."
Indiana player Devan Dumes also challenged Stevenson. Dumes drove the baseline and rose for a dunk in Stevenson's face. Stevenson reacted by blocking the shot while Dumes fell to the floor. Much to the crowd's disappointment, the referees called Stevenson for a foul.
"I really think he was trying to embarrass me," Stevenson said. "I couldn't let that happen. He kind of flopped. If that happened to me, I'd flop also."
Stevenson seemed reluctant to take bows.
"I thought I did OK," he said. "I could have been better. I guess I was kind of lucky.
"Coach said I played great. I didn't feel like it."
Stevenson balked when asked how much Indiana's inexperience and relative lack of size contributed to his production.
"It's still Indiana," he said. "If they came out in strollers, we'd still come out after them."
Freshman DeAndre Liggins had an eventful game. His 10 points gave him four straight games in double figures. He also made all six of his free throws, extending his current streak of makes to 22 of 25.
Late in the first half, Gillispie offered guidance after Liggins seemed to free-lance a few shots. The UK coach spoke to Liggins intently before grabbing his tight-fitting jersey and pulling him into the team huddle.
After the timeout, Liggins tried the Chauncey Billups play that Ramel Bradley used effectively. Liggins faked the defender into the air, then leaned in to force the contact. But there wasn't enough contact to merit a foul as Liggins missed badly.
All was apparently forgiven. When asked about Liggins' six turnovers, e_SDHpGillispie said, "I couldn't care less. Our team won and that's the only thing that made any difference."
Quote of the week
Late in the game, a fan sitting in the high-priced courtside seats appealed for a call by shouting at the referee, "He's pulling his shirt!"
To which, the referee replied, "You're ahead by 30."
From an officiating standpoint, it was two games in one. In the first half, the teams shot only two frees (UK's Kevin Galloway missed both). In the second half, the teams made 24 of 37 free throws. Indiana didn't shoot a free throw until 13:36 remained in the second half.
Michael Porter turned an ankle. But Gillispie did not sound as if Porter was seriously hurt.
"I hope not because I think he played his very best game at Kentucky," the UK coach said.
Porter had four assists, two steals and only two turnovers in 19 minutes.