UK Men's Basketball

Cats say they're not afraid to question coach

Patrick Patterson led Kentucky with 27 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and not a single turnover in an almost 40-minute stint on Saturday.

But Patterson's most eye-catching achievement seemed to be talking back when Coach Billy Gillispie barked instruction.

"It's always back and forth with me and Coach G," Patterson said after Kentucky beat Florida Atlantic 76-69. "We love each other."

More than one player said Gillispie encourages a differing opinion.

"He always said, 'If you think I'm wrong, don't be scared,' " Patterson said. "That's what we do."

Guard Michael Porter noted that players can't cross a line and venture into defiance. And not just Patterson, the All-America candidate, can get away with debating Gillispie.

"He wants to see fire in you," Porter said. "And he wants to see passion. If you sit there and don't say anything, maybe it shows you don't care."

Porter acknowledged sometimes wondering if he's gone too far.

"That's what's changed about him," Patterson said. "Last year, we all kept it within ourselves ... and just listened to him. He's opened up more to us."

And how often has Gillispie said "my bad" and acknowledged that an objecting player was correct?

"Uh, the last time I can remember (is) I can't," Patterson said. "He's always right. We may think we're right. But it always turns out that we're wrong."

Stevenson arises

The enigma that is Perry Stevenson gained another footnote. After an Invisible Man impersonation in the first half (zero points, one rebound in four forgettable minutes), he scored 10 points, grabbed five more rebounds and blocked two shots in 15 second-half minutes.

"We were able to take him back to the back (of the locker room) and he was able to get his head on straight," Patterson said of the difference. " ... We were able to say some things we can't say on the court."

Players and coaches encouraged Stevenson to contribute more, Patterson said.

Meeks defers

Few players in the country, if any, had been as hot as Jodie Meeks. In the last two games, the UK guard had made 17 of 29 three-point shots and scored 78 points.

After scoring 12 points in the first half against Florida Atlantic, Meeks took only two shots as the Owls tightened their defense.

"First of all, you're not going to stop Meeks from scoring," FAU Coach Mike Jarvis said. "He might be the best guard in the SEC. We told our kids that. So you're not going to stop him. You want to make sure to make him work for what he gets."

Rather than force the action as the Owls denied him the ball, Meeks looked to pass.

"As good as he is offensively, he's also a team player," Jarvis said. "So he knows when to give the ball up. That's what makes him special.

"And to have Patterson to give it up to doesn't hurt either."

Seven turnovers

UK committed only seven turnovers, its fewest since a game against Florida on March 5, 2006.

Gillispie was not overly impressed.

"We shouldn't turn it over against them much," he said.

Florida Atlantic's deliberate offense and safety-first defense reduced the chances of turnovers.

Thumbs up

In saluting the close-knit UK team, Patterson noted how he and his teammates watched the movie Hoosiers the night before playing Indiana.

"It was pretty touching," Patterson said.

But not that touching. Patterson said he did not root for Hickory High.

Etc.

■ Assuming it wasn't a veiled commentary on the officiating, Jarvis saluted the Rupp Arena atmosphere. "You know, home-court is so wonderful," he said. "We'll be back ... trust me."

■ Florida Atlantic came into the game with a Ratings Percentage Index of 275. "They didn't come in here without getting our respect," Gillispie said. "We just didn't make any shots."

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