While happy with Kentucky's victory at Tennessee on Tuesday, Billy Gillispie isn't keen on trying to duplicate it at Georgia on Sunday. The UK coach repeatedly warned about such an attempt being a "trap" the Cats must avoid.
"I'm not talking about the end result of winning or losing," he said when a reporter used the trite term of trap-game. "I'm talking about how we go about playing the game."
That important distinction was a theme that tied together a Friday night news conference. UK can't expect Jodie Meeks to score anything approaching the school-record 54 points he poured on Tennessee. Nor can the Cats try to duplicate or exceed the season's best 12-for-19 three-point shooting in Knoxville.
That's especially true given the drastic change of defenses UK must face: from Tennessee's trapping and gambling, which created shooting-crappie-in-a-barrel opportunities in transition to Georgia's in-your-face (and, if necessary, in your solar plexus) approach.
"I applaud the way they play defense," Gillispie said of the Bulldogs. "I love the way they play defense.
"(But) it's a perfect set-up for those guys."
Meeks can't fall in love with his three-point shot after tying a UK-record 10 against Tennessee.
"Jodie can't fall into the trap of just being a three-point shooter," Gillispie said before mentioning another potential pitfall. "Jodie can't fall into the trap of saying, 'Hey, those guys are going to guard me harder now. I'll take myself out of the game.' "
Gillispie extended the warning about excessive three-point shooting to the entire team. This came after big man Patrick Patterson, the focus of UK's inside-out attack, took only eight shots for a second straight game. Knoxville marked the third time in the last four games that Patterson took fewer than 10 shots.
"We have to understand we're not a three-point shooting team," Gillispie said. "That's not going to work for us. We were able to make 12 threes the other night. That's not going to happen too many times, maybe not ever again this year. We have to understand where our bread is buttered."
Through Wednesday's games, Georgia ranked 15th nationally in defending the three-point shot.
"There's a lot of potential traps for a very inexperienced team," Gillispie said. "Hopefully, we won't fall into any of those traps."
That said, Gillispie saluted Meeks for not taking many bad shots. The UK coach defined a bad shot as one taken by a player who does not give great effort defending and rebounding. By that standard, Gillispie said, "I'm not concerned about any shot Jodie's taken or I foresee him taking because of how hard he plays."
Gillispie added a qualifier: Bad shots are possible by a hard worker if a particular game comes down to a taut final few minutes during which every possession counts.
Georgia's defensive philosophy suggests very few bad shots. Though they are the only team in the Southeastern Conference East without a win, the Bulldogs try to make life difficult for opponents.
In last year's SEC Tournament, Georgia held Kentucky to 35.3-percent shooting. That was UK's second-worst accuracy of the season. UK shot only a bit better when the teams played in Rupp Arena: 40.7 percent, which tied for the seventh worst.
"They physically dominated us in every single game, and it got worse every time they played us," Gillispie said. "They're going to try to muddy it up."
During an SEC teleconference on Thursday, Georgia Coach Dennis Felton sounded encouraged by his team's defense earlier in the week at Vanderbilt. Georgia held Vandy, which welcomed back center A.J. Ogilvy, to 40.8-percent shooting (12.5 percent from three-point range).
"I was really, really happy with the step forward we had ... with regard to our rebounding tenacity and our defensive tenacity and the way we competed," Felton said. "And the way we just showed some grit ... .
"We struggled to get the ball in the hole, (but) gave ourselves a legitimate chance to win the game."
Gillispie said he expected freshman DeAndre Liggins to play at Georgia. Liggins did not play at Tennessee in the latest puzzling episode of his seldom-boring season.
"I want him to play," Gillispie said. "And I think every body wants him to play."
So why didn't Liggins play at Tennessee?
"He just didn't do what's necessary to get on the court," the UK coach said.
When asked whether this failure happened in practice, Gillispie repeated, "He just didn't do what's necessary to get on the court."