UK Men's Basketball

Guarding Meeks: Grin and Barrett

Friends. Former teammates. Comedy team.

That's the kind of relationship Auburn guard Rasheem Barrett enjoys with Kentucky's Jodie Meeks.

When the two talked a few days ago, Barrett acknowledged the torrid shooting spree that enabled Meeks to be named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for a third time.

"You own it right now," Barrett said he told Meeks.

Then turning his attention to reporters at a Monday news conference/teleconference, Barrett playfully added, "I told him we have to come in and calm him down a little. Take him out of the kitchen. He's a little too hot right now."

When asked how Meeks reacted, Barrett said, "He just laughed it off. Ha, ha, ha.

"But I told him, I'm going to take that laugh away from you, though."

Laughter rushed through the telephone line.

Auburn's game at Kentucky will enable Barrett and Meeks to renew acquaintances. The two played on the same Georgia Stars team that won an Amateur Athletic Union national championship five years ago.

For Meeks to become practically unguardable does not surprise Barrett.

"It was always in his repertoire to do the things he's doing," the Auburn guard said.

Barrett, a senior from Atlanta, also vouched for Meeks' character.

"He's a great guy," Barrett said. "He's a real great guy. He's a great kid who works hard."

Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo all but conceded the futility of designing a defense for Meeks.

"You got any ideas?" he asked a reporter who brought up the subject.

Lebo noted Meeks' level of confidence and "staggering" shooting accuracy.

"He's scoring every which way you can," the Auburn coach said. "We're not going to shut him out. There's no doubt about that. But you have to keep him somewhat under control."

Lebo saluted Patrick Patterson for providing an inside component to balance Meeks' perimeter shooting. As for the other UK players, Lebo labeled them as "role guys" who contribute collectively to a balanced attack. He singled out Perry Stevenson getting "garbage baskets around the rim."

As for a box-and-one defense, which UK seems to be expecting sometime in Southeastern Conference play, Lebo gave that approach lukewarm support.

"You know, the junk defenses are aptly named," he said. "They're junk. They don't work against everybody. ...

"If he was going off like the Tennessee game, I'd play a triangle-and-two and put two guys on him."

If Lebo looks for volunteers to guard Meeks, he need look no further than Barrett.

"I'll lock him down," Barrett said, again in a playful tone of voice. "I told him the same thing. If the opportunity presents itself, I'll try to switch off on him. He'll get locked down by me, Rasheem Barrett."

Again, laughter erupted.

Then Auburn publicist Chuck Gallina jokingly asked Barrett if he could hold Meeks to less than 50 points.

"I'll hold him to two points," Barrett said.

With laughter filling the phone line, Gallina tried to prevent anyone from assuming Barrett was serious.

"He meant two (points) in the first minute," Gallina said.